By: Susan C. Haley
Recently I wrote a poem titled “Endings”. But, in that little poem, the emphasis was more on beginnings, the idea that life is circular, and every ending is merely the pen that writes a new dawn. Today, I revisit that poem and consider that in an unconscious, prophetic way, I was writing it for myself to be a gentle reminder when yet another threshold appeared in my life.
I’m a writer. Since a small child, I’ve been a writer. It’s my best way of communicating. What often ends up as written words on a page usually begins in the rumblings of inner voices, in dreams, reactions to happenstance, and the little inspirations that fleet unexpectedly through my mind, a mind that was blessed with a pondering instinct. Often for days, I’ll languish in a corridor of my mind sorting out circumstances, questions, and ideas. My initial reactions to things rarely remain constant, as emotions and thoughts almost endlessly, sort and re-sort themselves. I’m teased by those close to me about tending to ‘analyze everything to death’.
In the years since my husband’s passing, I’d managed to write my way into a world of two published books, several published articles, essays, and poems. I found myself in a leadership role in the Florida Writers Association, and my simple but heartfelt ramblings were beginning to attract attention and sell. I was being invited to do presentations and events for my books and share my experiences. My dream was to soon retire from the ‘day’ job and devote my life to the ‘writing’ that had always been the backbone of my personality, and more recently, the strength that carried me forward in a, now, solitary existence. Still, having always been a person driven by a sense of responsibility and loyalty to those, and to what, I’d made my commitments; the dream seemed always to remain on the back burner.
For most of my adult life, it had been family . . . my husband, two sons, our home, and a job that always perched first and foremost in my life and the purpose for living it. And I wanted it that way. My Jerry was a dream chaser and I was content enough chasing his dreams, my own of being a ‘real’ writer was placed on a shelf in a ‘someday’ closet.
Then death penned another new dawn. One shrouded in storm clouds with little hope of a rising sun. I was widowed relatively young, my sons grown and on their own, so it was now the ‘job’, the keeping a roof over my head, the financial obligations, that forced me to leave the dream safely stored on its ‘someday’ shelf. Oh, I’d soothe myself with all night sessions hunched over a keyboard purging my aching heart; the clattering keyboard sheltering my mind from the empty house and the silence that fairly screamed at me in the wee hours when the rest of the world was sleeping. Countless essays, poems, then the books, were piled on the shelf with the dreams, stuffed in the closet of a ‘someday’ room amidst the shoulds, should nots, the whys and wherefores of my life. There was the job . . .
When I penned the “Endings” poem, little did I know that an ending was, indeed, approaching and another new dawn was just beyond the horizon. It so happened that a series of events at work led me to a decision that ‘my time had come.’ It was time to empty some closets. Someday had arrived, in a somewhat unexpected way, but arrived just the same. I’d trained myself to always listen to the inner voices and they were telling me . . . it’s now or never. Break free or die in the ‘mold’.
I was so sure and so excited at finally deciding to take the plunge, I told family and some friends about my decision. And, so disillusioned by the cautions, the bewares, tossed back. “You can't do that! Don't burn bridges! How are you going to pay your bills? Don't do something you'll be sorry for! Be careful what you do on impulse, you'll have to live with it! You can't be without a JOB!” On and on . . . with only two exceptions.
At first, I was angry. I thought, talk about bringing a person down! Doesn't anyone have faith in my ability to pursue my writing? Is it all just talk, the support, the accolades for my work? Then, I was hurt. I thought, couldn't just once somebody encourage, rally me on, say “You, go girl!”
Then, the mind lights flickered. Then, I was sad. It dawned on me . . . these aren't people who are jealous, competitive. These aren't people who want to keep me down in their own rigid worlds, people who don't have dreams. These are people who really do have care and concern. And, they're people, like me, who are so programmed, so brainwashed by shoulds and should nots, that any deviance scares the wits out of them. They've been raised since birth to stay in prescribed molds and put dreams in ‘someday’ closets. These are people who live in fear of the unknown, of taking a risk. They live in fear of wrong choices, so make no choices at all. They exist through a stretch of time, follow all the rules to the letter, obey all the signs, gather their material treasures, and think they've lived. How so very sad.
I thought, then, of my father. Were he alive and I did such a thing, he'd be mortified! Often was, at my dream-chasing husband and the daughter who always chased it with him. Yet, always, when I looked really deep into his eyes, I'd see a small twinkle of 'admiration', a wistful acceptance of our folly and our adventure.
Unlike my husband, Dad died a tired man, a man who’d clung to the mold with a vengeance. His wealth, his wars, fifty years of hard work, and his material possessions, his only source of pride. He never felt pure joy. He never knew how to travel a road just because it’s there. He never chased a dream, and he never knew real courage, only molded determination. Somehow I think he’s somewhere smiling . . . saying, "You go, little girl!"
I can feel summer waning, a cooler dryness in the air.
Is another season ending, or is it going somewhere?
Has a summer that is over met an end that is dead?
Or simply wafted elsewhere, its warmth there, to spread?
As the sun leaves the horizon into the edge of night,
Has it met its end forever, forever dead and gone from sight?
Will there again be a morning light now that the sun has gone?
Will darkness now engulf me, or will a new beginning come?
Will another pink-hued dawn give birth to yet another day?
Or do the ends of setting suns forever stay away?
Do these tears of grief I feel rolling down my face
Mean the death of joy has come? The death of happiness?
Or are all endings circles that forever go around?
Is there really such a thing as endings dead and bound?
Does the death of one end give birth to a new beginning?
Do battles lost birth battles won, and loss give birth to winning?
When dead ends seem to loom ahead and walls begin to rise;
When purpose and direction lie in shadow before your eyes,
Never stand there lost! Look right, look left, look up or down.
And then you’ll see the jewels adorning every ending’s crown.
Susan Haley © 2007
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