The day that I began this blog, January 15, 2010, I made a commitment to myself to write on it for 40 days straight — this to prime the writing pump and to prevent becoming lazy, or shy, or a pefectionist. I also committed to work each of these same 40 days for at least a brief while on my new website, which is as yet unposted, and on my book.
Before I moved to North Carolina in August of 2004, there was no question about what I was committed to. I was a mother of a daughter who lived at home (and of another already living on her own), and I worked as a professor. Those were my primary commitments, everything else was just maintenance for the most part. Prior to that I had been a wife, minister and mother, no question what I was committed to. After my move, my daughter no longer needed me on a daily basis, no students needed me, nor did anyone need me for anything in particular. I couldn’t die because that would upset people, but other than that I was utterly free to choose what I wanted to commit to.
Connection to nature and wilderness, a primary reason I moved here – I was committed to that but it was a vague calling from day to day. Survival financially and personally, those were major commitments, but again the pursuit was chaotic and vague. A continued quest for truth, for spiritual and psychological development, and the desire to be of assistance to others — these have always been foundational commitments, but I no longer had ready-made structures for these. My book, recovery from a grieving process, I have been committed to these but floundering. There are enormous physical demands in living where I live – keeping acres of grass mowed, fire wood gathered, snow shoveled; but in general I have had the burden of too much freedom with no pressing pre-prioritized commitments to create a structure for my life.
So now, to have made this promise to write for 40 days, this day being the third – I can’t say what kind of stability it has already added to my sense of things. I have tried for more than 5 years of living here to create a writing schedule to absolutely no avail. I have been an utter failure every time, with excuses every single day for why I really must take care of this other thing instead – it will bring work, it creates a network, I need the social life, rain is coming so the grass has to be mowed today. It never seems to end.
What has happened that I’m now committed to writing each day? The promise of this New Moon/Eclipse has felt big, the 40 day idea seems manageable. But I am hopeful, very hopeful, that this will create a momentum that will continue and build. To paraphrase John Lennon, life is what just kept happening while I was making these other plans, but somehow now I’ve moved the puzzling pieces of life around to make the writing piece fit. What will it take to commit after these 40 days are over? Why has this commitment been so hard to find all along? These are the questions I will live, as the poet Rilke advises, until I stumble upon an answer.