Reunions, Nests, and Flight Paths

Now and then I receive invitations for school reunions, but I’ve never felt tempted to catch up with people whom I didn’t know all that well at the time. The urge to reconnect seems to require that some continuing affinity has remained alive.

Last Sunday I attended a friend’s book reading and I happily purchased a copy of his book. Having had several book readings for my own books at this local book store, I was familiar with the pleasure and affirmation when people show up and purchase a copy of all those hours now sandwiched between two covers. Besides I still feel connected with the Albuquerque writing community.

While there, I talked with the woman who has published both my friend’s and my own books, and she asked me if I am doing any writing. I answered with my new, automatic reply: “Just my weekly on-line blog.”

Although I have heard myself say this before, this was the first time I actually felt that the whole apparatus of self-identification as a “writer”—who therefore should be writing–had slipped into the past. I realized that I no longer missed the life of writing, publishing, and of attempting to attract readers through book readings and interviews.

After publishing my third book, there followed a year during which I tried to get another one to peer out from its nest, flap its wings, and lift forth into the open sky. I had several motivations for wanting to have another writing project underway: there’s a sense of accomplishment when a book finally appears and, more importantly, I missed the experience of picking up my pen each morning and–standing back like Sancho Panza– riding along on the Quixote adventure of the day.

During that year, I researched GMO’s and the companies that—like cuckoos in the nest of Mother Earth—are taking over the world’s food supply in a pretense that they are helping out their birth mother. I worked on plot, characters, and scenes but, in the end, I was forced to recognize that the sum was less than the parts. I realized I wasn’t living at the heart of the story that I was attempting to tell. I was standing off to one side, feeling indignant but powerless to affect change, motivated more by memories of the pleasure of writing, than animated by a vision of how I might be a voice for the plight of our world.

That was the context in which—when I was invited to join the New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition Board—I saw an opportunity to revitalize my own past (my engagement with MS and ALS communities), now shifted into a parallel and equally human realm.

It has become an interesting story for me. I don’t have a personal connection with Parkinson’s, so I’m still standing off to one side. But working with people, who do live with Parkinson’s, and who have created a Coalition to benefit others carried along by the same slipstream, is providing me with the creative connection I was hoping to find all along. Joining a worthwhile activity started by others is like hearing the wing beats of a bird already in flight, and then realizing that we ourselves are flying above the clouds.

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