November 30, 2009
In my house there are a hundred half-done poems.
Each of us leaves an unfinished life.
— Mary Oliver, b. 1935
One of Lynn’s high school field hockey teammates was the daughter of a woman who had been a field hockey standout in her own youth, and later a successful coach. I liked sitting near her in the stands because she tended to think out loud and narrate the action, naming and explaining plays and fouls that I would otherwise have missed or not understood. Her daughter was often the ball controller, and the mother would frequently call out, “Finish, Ashley! Finish!” I never knew quite what that meant, but knew it probably had something to do with follow-through, follow-up, covering the details.
This is the last day of NaBloPoMo 2009. Despite my carefully drawn plans, I posted on only 17 days, including this one. That’s just over half. Although not a half-baked nor a half-hearted effort, it causes me to be disappointed in myself. My effort began to wobble half-way through the month when, as in 2008, I had a health assessment that demanded further investigation.
Like last year, I let that concern crowd out others, and by the middle of last week, I was missing beats regularly. I misremembered the date of an important anniversary in a friend’s life and so neglected to note it. In an effort to start pulling things together for Christmas, I got out a box that I knew contained some address lists and other keeping-in-touch materials. I had taken it with me when I left for Georgia on my birthday.
And I’d brought it back without ever opening it. It contained the Christmas cards and letters people sent us last year, and the beginnings of my annual holiday letter that I never completed. (Some people will thank me for this.) It also contained birthday cards that I didn’t even open, and thus did not acknowledge. I just saw who sent it, figured I knew what was inside, and deferred the response. I opened them now and saw that one extended an invitation that it must appear now that I ignored, and another was not a birthday card but a letter from an old friend about the serious illness of a mutual friend, another matter apparently ignored.
At Wednesday’s Thanksgiving Eve service, someone asked after Lynn and then wondered what grade she’s in now. I hadn’t realized that this woman and I had been so out of touch. On Thursday, at dinner at my sister’s house, I realized how little I really knew about some of the people I claim to care about, whose lives I want to be part of, should be part of.
Every day is another chance to change, someone reminded me on Friday.
I’m taking that chance today, closing the book on November. Holidailies starts next week. I’ve said that the energy of NaBloPoMo does not engage me the way that of Holidailies does, but that’s just an excuse. I need to create my own forward-moving energy. There are letters to write, gifts to procure, bread to be baked, and love to be shared.
Thank you for reading, so much, so often.
The NaBlos of the Past
2008: I did not post on this day in 2008.
2007: Kum & Go, Buffalo — I first knew Kum & Go when I visited Wyoming in 2005. The faintly salacious name amused me. The company was founded in 1959 by William Krause and Tony Gentle, who sought a name that would emphasize convenience and speed for your shopping experience. They played off “come and go” by using the founders’ initials.
2006: I did not post on this day in 2006.
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