Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dear Life...

I found this"letter to life" in the process of going through my old computer and copying all the near-forgotten files (nostalgia running amok amok amok!) and realized it was written nine years ago to the day (yesterday).  And...I liked it.  It was sort of interesting to see how closely some of the thoughts fit in with the thoughts I've been thinking recently (does that mean I'm always thinking the same things, or does it mean that my introspection spirals round in predictable cycles?) 

Anyway, this photo was another lost-n-found treasure--that's me on New Year's Eve, 2001, at the Eugene First Night Celebration.  I thought it fit with the retro blog post...reflecting on the past, thinking about the future.

Dear Life,

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write.  You've been busy.  I know I've taken you for granted a lot, but I want you to know I don't mean to forget you.

I've hiked a lot of trails carrying a heavy backpack, and the way was sometimes very rocky.  I remember a trail in the Grand Tetons where the switchbacks climbed endlessly, carved out of the mountain in thick, stony steps, uneven--each step forcing me to heave all of my weighty self onto one raised knee.  I cursed that trail, and I hated that heavy load upon my back, even though I knew it was there to help me stay well--to sleep comfortably and eat and drink fresh water.  And I remember another trail in Glacier, stepping through shoulder-high foliage on a slippery, uphill path covered with bear tracks, fear pounding in my heart. 

Sometimes, Life, you're that dreaded, cursed trail, difficult to follow.  And sometimes a piece of me folds her arms and sits down by the side and refuses to carry her backpack one step farther.  And even then, Life, what do you do but send a swarm of mosquitoes to drive me from my perch.  Bitch.

Still, as I climbed, and as I sang loudly to the bears to mask my fear, I became more whole.  My vision grew.  I became brave.  I carried the things I needed and left the rest in the car.  Without that path, where would my journey lead?

What more can I say to you, Life, in these muddy, clumsy words...these words that stomp impatiently in pastures, yearning for the grasses of other places?  Your beauty can only be captured in the sideways glance, stuttered in the soul, perhaps in a line of poetry.  Only the guttural sounds of the most primal language could come close--the gasp, the sigh, the shiver that runs like lightning up the back of my neck and slides down my arms in a shower of gooseflesh.

Thanks for helping me learn to be patient.  I know I get whiny sometimes.  I'm sorry I've hated you.  Cheated on you.  Cried and wailed, begged you to change.  We don't need to get into the details, Life.  I know I'm the one who changes.

It's okay that I'm not famous yet, Life.  I like the present better when I have dreams about the future.

It's okay that I'm poor, too.  I hope I'll always remember to keep it simple.

I wanted to thank you also for music, poetry, and light.  For the colors of the autumn leaves, the smell of sunny raspberries, the joy of an icy snowball packed with raw, cold hands in spring, the sound of children laughing.

Thanks for forgiveness,
for enthusiasm,
for trial and for error,
for the madness and the serenity.

Thanks for not giving up on me when I give up on you.

Anyway, Life, there was a reason I wrote to you, actually.  I was thinking about all the things about you I'd like to enjoy, and I mean, I can imagine so much to do (thanks, Life, by the way, for imagination), I mean besides being a writer and a backpacker and a poet and a teacher and a photographer and a wife and a graphic designer and an artist and a dreamer in this life, I also would really love to be a painter and a dancer and a tree and mother and a carpenter and a crazy woman and a geologist and a singer and a film director.  And Life, these are only the things I want to do right this second.

So I guess what I'm saying, Life, is please, slow down! Help me remember to play, to learn, to question, to get involved.  Don't let my time get so parceled off to various places that I never have a moment to be alone, to stare into the sky or to whisper a prayer, to paint in the afternoon or to dance with my husband in the kitchen. 

And I promise to write more often.

Love, (thanks most of all for love)

Elissa Janine


Anonymous said...

Actually..... You have always been one of my favorite (words).


Anonymous said...

Amazing, Amazing... :-)

Thank you for sharing this. It seems slowly I am getting to know you better. What a joy

Lisa H.

elissa said...

:) thanks, both of you.

Kristan said...

"It's okay that I'm not famous yet, Life. I like the present better when I have dreams about the future.

It's okay that I'm poor, too. I hope I'll always remember to keep it simple."

LOL yup. Yuuuuuup.