There are things to hold on to. It may not appear so, but it is so. There are things I want to do that I have not yet done, even though I often shrug and say, I’m old, leave me alone, now. No new tricks for me. But, for example, I want to learn how to write literary criticism, in other words, I want to have my say about things I read, and be able to communicate what I think in a way that creates dialog with others. This is a pompous goal, I imagine, yet I have so many books of poetry on my shelves and want to say something. That’s it, I want to say something.
Today my mouth feels clotted, I want to make lists. I need to remind myself of the things left to do and the things undone. There is an etiquette to things that I sometimes know instinctively (such as how to be with someone who has just lost a loved one) and other things that I mangle totally (such as what to say during a job interview). I also want to draw, and to make many dozens of collages, using up all of the saved pictures and remnants of life events that otherwise will need to be tossed after, well you know. I’m trying so hard not to make this about death.
I have wanted to be alone since I was small and had no choice in the matter. I have wanted to be alone through serial relationships in which for months, sometimes years, I lost myself completely. Living alone is the world’s best kept secret. I know that if you don’t agree, I won’t (and don’t wish to) convince you. But for me, well, creating a deep relationship with myself has saved my life. For me, there is always the risk of self-loss, a risk that I am prone to in relationships and jobs and even in a crowd.
I don’t wish to lose myself, it has taken me so many years to find a way to carry all of me along with me wherever I go. This is the wisdom I have learned, paltry maybe, but critical. I am a portable self. I’ve learned to take all of me wherever I go. It gets me into trouble at odd moments, but there are other moments when I need a part of me that I am pleased I have not left behind out of consideration for others’ sensibilities.
If I ramble here, it is for you to find the secret within. It’s always more meaningful when you discover it for yourself.