If I were to write my memoirs,
the title would be “Reaching.”
The chapter headings:
Maybe not in that order,
but probably so.
There would be a Foreword to explain
I’m not competitive (even against myself),
nor am I status-conscious, greedy or an overachiever.
Well, maybe just a little of all that.
It’s not about aspirations, goals, achievements…
A reaching born perhaps of the low-key work ethic instilled by my parents.
(is that an oxymoron, “low-key work ethic?”)
If you take one step, you might as well take two.
If you’re an apprentice, you might as well become a journeyman.
Once you’re a journeyman, you might as well aim for foreman.
There might as well be a chapter in my memoirs called “Might as Well.”
My memoirs would describe how I progressed through life in this mindset.
And how one day it flipped.
If I lost a step in my journey, I would likely fall back two steps.
If I missed a rung in my ascent, soon thereafter
I’d likely land on my butt at the bottom of the ladder.
And so it was.
Until finally I just stopped.
No up, no down.
Just full stop.
◊ ◊ ◊
Two summers ago I took up whittling.
I sit on my deck on warm afternoons
in the shade of a lopsided black walnut tree.
Opportunistic squirrels steal green nuts from the branches above me.
I place a glass of water or sun tea next to my chair,
and I whittle.
I don’t whittle to carve shapes into wood,
or to carve wood into shapes.
It’s just relaxing to take a sharp knife and a found piece of wood,
and shave away layers until I’ve reached… no, not reached…
until I know I am done.
Maybe this is the perfect last chapter for my memoirs.
I will call the chapter “Whittling,”
and I’ll describe my practice of peeling back layers
to see what’s beneath.
Not like some deep introspection, where I
lay bare the depths of my soul to reveal all the
rot and grisly scars.
Much simpler (and much more interesting) than that;
kind of like a low-key work ethic.
I just whittle
on found wood,
one shaving at a time
to discover the layers
of being in this world
on my deck on a summer afternoon.
In response to the NaPoWriMo prompt: What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? Seems I had to go to the past to get to the future.
RE: Journeyman/Foreman: my parents were of a non-gender neutral generation, but they never discouraged my career choices based on gender.