Thursday, April 15, 2010

those unclimbed mountains

Yesterday I got some disturbing news. One of my co-workers at my former job back in Alaska has suffered a stroke. He had perhaps one of the crappier government jobs, the mailroom gig, but he was always cheerful despite the fact that perhaps we took advantage of him, swooping in with our manufactured crises of having to get certified letters out ASAP.

Apparently he is physically fine but thinks he is in another city entirely and that aliens come to visit him. Although he made lifestyle choices that perhaps contributed to his troubles, this whole thing horrifies me. He is in his fifties. So I got to thinking: we all have these secret dreams. For us, there are mountains left unclimbed, rivers left unrun, lakes unpaddled. We put these things off, claiming indispensibility at work, finances, lack of good companions. There will be a better time--someday. When we retire, when we save up a little more, when we meet the man or woman of our dreams.

And there is a kernel of truth to that, because unless we have a trust fund, most of us can't just walk in the boss' office and quit. Most of us don't round a corner and our perfect mate stands there with backpack ready. But what I take from this is that even if you can't pull off the grand gesture (write for a year in a little cottage in the mountains with lots of cats and dogs! Make millions!) you can do smaller things that satisfy your soul. Climb one mountain. Paddle one lake. Live one dream.

So I applied for a remote six month writing residency. The idea of so much solitude, and the risk of failure--what if nothing halfway readable comes out of it--as well as risking my comfortable job, is terrifying. How will I maintain my relationships? How will I resist from turning into a crazy lady who talks to trees (wait. I sort of do that already)?

That is one of my dreams. I'm not putting it off. What about you?


  1. Hope you get the residency! Is it somewhere cool?

    This is exactly why we are buying into the commercial fishing industry. Putting things off for later risks not doing anything at all.

  2. Hey Mary, that's great... where is the residency? In NH, the Robert Frost farm offers a residency, always thought that would be cool to write for six months on his porch.

  3. Glad you have taken the plunge to deep and scary as those waters seem. One of my favorite quotes: (Anonymous, but has to be from a woman!)
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming: WOW, What a ride!!"

  4. The residency is along the Rogue River, surrounded by BLM wilderness. Very remote. No electricity. But if I don't get it, I'd be interested in hearing more about the Robert Frost one.


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