Saturday, October 19, 2013

Celebrate Strength on This Saturday

You might think by the post title that I have some heavy duty Saturday activities lined up.  While I do have some work to do on some projects today, they don't require physical strength so much as persistence.  I've already made some progress on my memoir manuscript.  Later this afternoon, I may work on putting together disparate writings about Kathleen Flenniken's Plume to transform them into a unified review that an editor asked me to do. I've got some work projects that may get my attention.

No, I'm thinking about strength because of the events of the week, primarily the pumpkin offload (go to this post for more on that subject). 

The other night my spouse said, "You had trouble because you have no upper body strength."

I said, "I beg to differ.  Just yesterday, I carried 400-600 pumpkins."

He said, "Well, true."

I said, "They didn't weigh a lot--5 to 40 pounds per pumpkin.  But I carried pumpkin after pumpkin for 3 hours, and I was one of the few people able to do it.  I can't bench press 600 pounds, but I can carry pumpkins for hours."

I might argue that it's a different kind of strength, but a more useful kind of strength.  How many of us live lives where we'll need to lift hundreds of pounds? 

You might argue that we don't need to lift smaller weights either.  But we do need to carry our groceries and lift laundry baskets and pick up children.  Living in South Florida, I'm surrounded by an older population who can no longer do these basic tasks.  It becomes a disability.

A bad attitude is another kind of disability.  We've had the kind of week at work that makes it very hard to keep our spirits up.  But I'm impressed by how we try.

We remind ourselves that we're only here a very short time.  I got together with a group of people who were at my school from my very first day; in fact, when I interviewed, one of them, who knew me from our teaching time at the local community college, acted so happy to see me that I decided it could be a good place to work.

We talked about other job possibilities, should the wolf come to our door.  We reminded ourselves that we have lots of skills.  We had sobering news of a former colleague/friend who is suffering a medical crisis. 

It's good to remember that in the long range scheme of things, we're not here very long.

Yesterday, I got my copies of Sandy Longhorn's new book, The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths.  I finished my grueling week by devouring the whole thing right before I fell asleep.  I cannot recommend it highly enough, and soon I'll write a more unified review.  In the meantime, you should get your own copy; go here to purchase (go ahead, I'll wait).

Let me say how cool it was to remember seeing some of those poems on her blog.  I've been looking forward to seeing how they work together in a collection.  It's a treat.  And for those of us who wonder if we're undercutting future book sales by putting poems on our blogs, I'm here to assert that we're not.  On the contrary, it can lead to anticipation.

I woke up with a new poem of my own in my head.  I recognize some of the elements from the book that my subconscious wove into a new creation.  I also recognize John Donne.  My poem alludes to his line about a bracelet of bright hair about the bone.

It's good to write a poem that has potential again.  I've been writing, don't get me wrong.  But I've been writing down lines I thought had potential, and adding to them, only to find that I'm not even writing good prose, much less poems that achieve flight velocity.

As I look at Sandy's book, I'm struck by not only the strength of the poems and the strength of the collection, but also the strength of the journey.  Through her blog, I know how long she's worked on getting a second manuscript published.  The book that's on my desk is not the one that she always thought would be her second book; she's had other manuscripts in circulation.  I've been reading her blog before she started writing these poems, and it's been fascinating watching her process of writing them and thinking about them in a larger context.

Yes, I think persistence and a good spirit are the most important strengths we can develop.  I'm not suggesting that we abandon our other strength training disciplines.  But I am going to work on keeping an eye on my long term projects, while doing my best to treat everyone kindly and gently.

1 comment:

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, Kristin, thank you, thank you, thank you for this generous and wonderful note on the collection. I appreciate you!!