I HATE losing things. We all do, of course. Such losses are in turn inconvenient (keys?), tragic (a mother’s ring?), irritating (a grocery list?), panic-inducing (a passport?), and costly (a credit card?). And sometimes it seems that there are so many moving parts in life that we’re all being driven to become OCD, “checkers,” making sure all the important pieces are in place—in the purse, in the car, in the briefcase, in the pocket, in the desk drawer, in the filing cabinet, in the jewelry box, in the cloud.
I used to feel the same way about my thoughts. They are mine and they are important and they are markers, somehow, of movement along this highway I’m on. I'm not talking about memories, though some of those seem rather elusive too these days! I'm referring to the aha moments we have, the sudden flashes of synergistic revelation that make sense of the world in a new way.
Really, sometimes I have brilliant ideas. I'm sure you’d be amazed. They’re luminous and creative and way, way wise ... I think. But, um, I can’t ever seem to remember them when I finally get to pen and paper. And certainly never when I sit at the keyboard! They blaze into my thoughts and prayers like a red comet—on the elliptical or in the car or taking a shower or standing in the grocery line. I relish them for a while, and then they turn into whispers, still livid with meaning, and then the whispers are mere echoes, banging around in vacant chambers up there in my head, and then, poof, they’re gone. And I’m left with ink and paper and a sense of suspension and loss … and a feeling of absurdity.
I used to berate myself for not doing the ‘real writer’ thing – i.e., taking a notebook with me wherever I go so that I can gather what grace is given and pin it down. Or I’d sit for a while and try to make up something that sounded a little like what I’d forgotten, and it would be completely silly.
But my dear friend George, gone these last 100 plus years, has been of help:
What if, writing, I always seem to leave
Some better thing, or better way, behind,
Why should I therefore fret at all, or grieve!
The worse I drop, that I the better find;
The best is only in thy perfect mind.
Fallen threads I will not search for—I will weave.
Who makes the mill-wheel backward strike to grind!
So here’s to the warp and woof of life—a lolloping (for you Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fans) assault on what is ahead, with only an occasional wry regret for the mental detritus that somewhere, somehow, someone else will have to discover.