Little Life-Altering Epiphany

I wrote this post on my former blog when Silas was 15 months old.  I am including it here because it deals with writer’s block and with epiphanies both of which I am currently experiencing.  As you will note, I need to get back in this saddle.

So, while I flounder around starting posts and stopping them mid-sentence so that I can edit, edit, edit my content, so that I can double-check to make sure that I am saying what I am meaning to say, so that I can verify that I am writing something worthy of this brand of instant “publication”, I am, by all stretches of the creative imagination, not writing at all.  (In fact, I just started to delete this sentence and then stopped myself and forced myself to write it before I could read back to the beginning and delete the whole damn thing.  Where are thou, my self-confidence???)

So, I have, just recently, in the last few days in fact, experienced a little, life-altering epiphany.   And, yes, like most life-altering epiphanies–or at least like most of my life-altering epiphanies, because I have had so very many, you know– the burst of mind-numbing enlightenment was completely obvious.  Beyond obvious.  Let me fill you in…

While perched on the toilet– I admit that I often feign constipation in order to fulfill my literary yearnings– I revisited the introduction to Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.  In her opening paragraph, she discusses a childhood filled with books and with people actually reading them.  She talks about a writer father who sprawled across the couch every evening after dinner to read, read, read.  She writes about how the whole family would retire to their favorite reading spot and about how, on occasion, their house was also filled with, perhaps better than books, her father’s writer friends, who would, to Lamott’s dismay, occasionally pass out at the dinner table. Ah!  How I wished, with all my stupid heart’s desire, that I could be living that life.

Living that life?!?  You’d think I was envious of someone who built a 4-acre palace on the back-side of a cumulus cloud.  I mean, golly, turning my back deck into the Playboy Mansion may be a little beyond my reach, but living in a house in which people stretched out after a good meal to enjoy a good book?!?

Yeah.  I’ve been spending my time desperately yearning for the easily possible.

Unfortunately, it seems, that wild pointless yearning of mine confirms one of the following: a.) I’m ungratefully spoiled and nothing is ever good enough for me b.) I am a masochist who likes to dangle the near-possible in front of myself while happily throwing ugly curve balls– such as a child who has been sick for almost four months and a sink that is full of crusty, unwashed dishes– at my undeserving head OR c.) I am plagued by a bout of life-threatening perfectionism that forces me to focus my undivided attention on all the wrong things.

Okay.  It’s A, B & C.  I’m an ungrateful, spoiled perfectionist masochist with a son who has been sick for 4 months (and who consequently is about to undergo surgery for a hernia AND a branchial cleft cyst), a sink full of almost-crusty dishes, and an inability to just damn RELAX!!!

So, if my idea of a perfect life includes lying on the couch reading and writing and having over artist friends, I have that so in the bag.  All I have to do is Just Do It!  (I really didn’t mean to use that Nike catch phrase.   But, now that I have, I finally, uh, get it.)

Instead of constantly berating myself because the bathroom floor has dirty sneaker prints on it,  I am now thinking that, within reason, I should just throw my Suzy Homemaker tendencies to the wind.

I was never intended to be a homemaker.  (At least not the kind that dabbles in Jell-O Mold.)

Wait!  That’s not fair.  Maybe I was.  Just a wee bit.  I mean, I do genuinely love organizing my closets with baskets.  I feel great when I’ve both dusted and made a Pot Roast.  And, I did– just this year– host a holiday wine-tasting in which the cloth napkins were rolled ever-so-neatly in little silver reindeer napkin rings and in which fresh Holly adorned our mantel.

Still.  I was never intended to spend so much time stressing about my domestic duties that I lose all sight of the truly important.

And, I don’t just mean reading books.

I mean, of course, my family.

In what sick self-created world of mine did dish-washing and laundry-folding become more important than drum-beating and boogie-dancing with my 15-month-old.  Or, more important than sipping a nicely chilled Manhattan and having a down-home discussion with my husband.  Or, even, more important than just checking in with myself about how the hell I’m feeling.

I can vow and resolve and promise and dream until I’m– well– dead.  And then, I guess, I’d just die dreaming.  If having a happy home filled with books and creativity and love is my goal, well, I should consider myself one lucky woman.  Because, no matter how I slice it, I already have everything I need.  All I need to do is just enjoy!

Sounds simple.

To enjoying my home, my hubby, my son, my books, my couch, my mind, my new quill pen, and my lap top, I toast (literally, I’m toasting as I type) to a new beautiful year!

May you also have little life-altering epiphanies and may we both have the courage to learn from them.




  1. Kim said,

    August 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Now THIS is EXACTLY the type of Emily’s writing that I so dearly love.

    “You’d think I was envious of someone who built a 4-acre palace on the back-side of a cumulus cloud.” HAHAHAHA!

    “…Jell-O Mold” HAHAHAHAHA! *breathe* HAHAHAHAHA!

    It also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (and personal mantras), which I actually posted on FB just the other day: “Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” ~Lao Tzu

  2. ecoolbeth said,

    August 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

    I’m trying to get back. I am trying…

  3. August 3, 2011 at 12:54 am

    This is a great post and you’ve quoted my favorite author, Anne Lamott. I love her!

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