We walked north all the way around Hug Point and into the next beach last week. All the wave-swept stone was coated in green, like matching jackets. I would have walked to Arcadia, another half mile, but we’d have had to come home on the highway and there are a couple of dangerous stretches I know too well from when I was running.

I meant to share photos. It was an accomplishment to walk that far on the beach before the end of March.

The seaweed will begin to go once the sun is high enough to burn it during low tide.

I am doing Camp NaNo this month, the National Novel Writing Month spring event. There was originally a plan for submitting the collection I am working on, but now I will do it just to be doing. (I cannot weave all day.) I revise for a time each day and log my progress, though the NaNo website does not offer me the statistics and graphing I most enjoy—at least not this April. Maybe they are only doing that for the November writing. And no one locally is posting comments or encouragement. All of my “friends” at NaNo are gone, and I have no faith this effort will lead anywhere. But that is the way of it. I have no submissions out at all, and I think that is the way it will stay.

Years ago just after I had my first child, an artist-friend asked me how it felt “to give it all up.” She meant that I had abandoned art for motherhood. I cried for days after she left. Eventually I came to terms with the exhaustion of parenting full time. I thought I was merely delaying, not giving up my artist soul. But decades have passed, the art never stopped, the writing reared its head, and I keep making. That much is true. It’s good. My philosophy since childhood has been that I could have most things I wanted if I did not aim too high or expect everything to happen at once. Maybe I was wrong. I frequently am. Credit my judgmental approach for that. Judge, I assume, I expect. I did not knowingly give up creating, but the time for creative “success” has passed me by.

Allow me to mourn.

We saw one of the adult bald eagles this morning, but this photo was taken a few days ago just as she began to lift up from the beach. I was zoomed in, impressed that any part of her is in focus.

I had to give up reading Marilynne Robinson’s Jack again. My second try. On the Goodreads listing for the novel, someone complained that she “can’t figure out what Della sees in Jack. Is he worth it?” Several answers, but Robinson believes in predestination, a theology I cannot invest in. And yes, I do actually know that Robinson has Calvinist ideals. I met her in Seattle in 2004 and asked her specifically and so there we are. I was disappointed (okay, maybe shocked) at her answer, but loved the book she was reading from, Gilead, and the next couple of books were good. But this one I simply cannot read. I would rather not know Robinson’s views. I am afraid to go back and read Housekeeping again, in case later insight and Jack haunt the story. Instead I will read a 1925 cookbook.

Some days are like that offering the come-to-jesus-moments—meaning no disrespect—that shift our life perspective. Gary and I are both talking lately about emigrating to Lisbon. Iceland really is too cold.

Like many of us, the writer Susan Orlean is having a hard time concentrating these days. “Good morning to everyone,” she tweeted recently, “but especially to the sentence I just rewrote for the tenth time.”

—Sarah Lyall in The New York Times

I want to note right now that I deeply appreciate people’s patience. I am trying to be patient toward others as they are toward me. My realtor, the correspondent from the yarn company, the contractor who has still done nothing to fix anything, a friend who took a while to get back to my email, family who haven’t been in touch and those who have.

We are still working our way through last year’s canning, a handful of jars left. I ordered Gary the orange marmalade he likes best. The sourdough is entirely reliable and in the oven. We walked for a little over an hour this morning and I retrieved an agate Gary had kicked aside thinking it was plastic. Gary insisted I order new shoes because my runners have holes wearing through. I bought socks for each of us.

Time goes on. Life is what happens while you thought you were paying attention.

The whimbrels were back yesterday—at first just five, then six (below), and I looked for the other. I always expect them in even numbers.

10 thoughts on “ON GIVING UP

  1. Jan, I am so appreciative of this post. I know the mourning and respect yours. It once took me down the rabbit hole via alcohol, it hurt so much. By the time I turned 40 I had lost over 20+ years of productivity creatively–for the most part–but for the 24 hour dedication to mothering and, quite a bit less so, being a wife. This, despite being a feminist who protested and more in the 60s, wrote and performed music, wrote and revised and wrote more almost daily, danced, painted huge canvases, and so on. But children…5. The enormity of love for one’s (and two stepchildren) children. The constant ache of not doing all the other I believed I would always do. The age old conundrum for too many women.

    Yes, I surrendered more, too, when I dedicated myself to a counseling/human services career. Yep, more serving others. But it was good, as well. And I soon found myself writing more, exploring and slowly working in different genres.

    Well, we still create, as you share here so beautifully, in such ways that add beauty and meaning and interest to a life and even the world, if far more quietly. Or alone.

    Lisbon? What a dream that would be…

    In any case, thanks for the pictures and your words. I appreciate your life shared in this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Cynthia! I felt that way about teaching. I put heart and soul into teaching. Gary used to say I was never off the clock. It’s taken two years to get any distance, and you know I still think first-and-always about how I would use an essay or news item in the classroom.

      Yes, well, Lisbon. I don’t mean to fly again, but I can dream.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wonderful–your teaching. So important and being that devoted had an impact, I am certain. I retired at 62, 8 years ago, and have adapted. I so appreciate the extra time–for experiences too often put off. Yes, dreaming is good, isn’t it? Reading a lot supports that pleasure!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. never give up and never surrender from galaxy quest one of my favorite Christmas movies—male chauvinist better start shaking- todays pig is tomorrows bacon from a feminist rally in Seattle in the early 70 s—what does it all mean peewee—i don’t know but I do know that even though the Alamo does not have a basement there is still hope and we must keep moving—we will survive

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “I have no submissions out at all, and I think that is the way it will stay. ”

    This causes me to be concerned for you. Writing is not Olympic gymnastics. We don’t’ age out. I hate hearing about of people losing heart, probably out of selfish fear for myself. Ebbs and flows are part of life. It doesn’t have to be today, but never is a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

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