Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Hey there, the old-school emoticon says. How are you?

Shawn the chocolate man came by for a visit today, bearing black coffee and wisdom and chocolate. May I recommend the 72% dark Tanzania? It's chock fulla goodness. So was the visit.

We were talking about what happened on May 5 when he said something that resonated in my excuse for a heart: "This is your greatest sorrow, but it will become your greatest joy."

I resisted believing that at first. Here's why: Despite what I wrote yesterday about not whining because things could be so much worse, I still struggle with that notion. Part of me called off the ambulance that my friend summoned because I sensed what was happening and I wanted it to kill me. I didn't want to be aware of my circumstances and be less than the man I was. If I died it wouldn't matter. There are things worse than death, and being left alive but diminished is one of them. I've seen The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (and if you haven't you must; it's fabulous).

But there have been upsides to recovering from a cerebralvascular accident (it was an accident, I swear!). I've gotten glimpses into the hearts of people I thought I knew, and without exception, it's been enlightening. Unexpected joys from unexpected people: that's been the rule, rather than the exception, and maybe it's the stroke talking, but just thinking about those gifts of the heart makes me cry. Dammit, that's cutting into my 10 minutes a day of bawling time.

I've also gotten back into the habit of glorified typing (it's still not writing, though it's getting closer by the day). Oddly, the words are coming from a different place now. Before all this happened the sentences poured from my fingertips, an insane rush of creation that made me feel bulletproof — no one I knew could write so effortlessly, and in my arrogance I came to believe that it was all my doing, that the muse had nothing to do with it. Now it takes real effort, and not just because my left hand continues to betray me at the keyboard. Without the inspiration of the muse I have to think about what I want to say and how it should sound. It humbles me and makes me appreciate what I so recently took for granted and fumbled away.

Even if the muse returned today with The Writer in tow, I imagine things would be greatly different. Despite my fondness for em dashes — and who don't love a good em dash, they're ever so much tastier than en dashes — my writing style and the process behind it have changed, become more thoughtful. For the first time ever I actually believe that with the right motivation, the right inspiration, I will be able to do more than bang out reams of copy. I'll be able to write something that's truly bad-ass — something that will endure.

(And in a bit of karma gone mad, Snooth sent out an email today about bad-ass wines. I take this as a sign.)

From great sorrow, the potential for great joy. The emoticon seems to be saying as much. Or at least she's telling me to quit bitching and get cracking. There are worse things than death. Wasting this opportunity is one of them.

1 comment:

Cheryl W. said...

Revision 1: When I had a heart attack, on Day Two of the Three Days I allowed myself to stay in the hospital, a representative of religion came to see me. Oh, what? Hand your worries to God, etc.? All she said, that I remember, was: You need to care about yourself. (She didn’t even know that I had had a morning heart attack - I knew it - and went to work for 10 hours then picked up a friend’s daughter at the airport because I said I would, before driving myself to the hospital, parking a fair walk from the ER.) A Baptist – my only point of reference – would have condemned the religion representative’s statement as humanism. I appreciated that. I also appreciated her brevity, which may be the reason I remember anything at all about her. At times, I appreciate the message. I have, though, endured. I have a feeling you will thrive. Let us write.