Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.
—Sue Monk Kidd, 'The Secret Life of Bees'
This morning I was walking my dog when we passed a young mother struggling with her toddler. They were standing on the corner and the little girl was refusing to take her mother’s hand to cross the street. Against the girl’s screeching cries of no, no no, the mother was quickly losing her cool. She was grabbing at the girl and trying to push a plastic scooter at the same time.
Finally she yelled, “Look how hard this is for me!”
Well, I looked. And I saw not only her struggle but my own. How perfectly her words captured my state of mind. Whether I’m flailing against my writing, overwhelmed by parenting, or simply carrying or doing too much, I often want to shout those same words to someone, anyone.
My teenage son and I were watching the movie La La Land and the ending made him sad. It brought up memories of his first heartbreak, which happened in the not-so-distant past. I wished I could comfort him or tell him that someday those feelings will be transformed into painless memories.
But the truth is I don’t believe heartbreaks ever completely leave us.
Fear had me in its claws this week.
I was making dinner and had just called my kids to come eat. My younger son Boone was sitting by the baseboard radiator playing on his phone. He jumped up and took a few steps toward the kitchen counter. Suddenly he fell back, stiff as a falling tree, in a faint, bumping against a table before landing flat on his back. I was terrified, and so were his brother and sister. I’d never seen anyone faint before, and in the few seconds it took him to revive, I imagined a hundred worst-case scenarios.
This week the word perseverance has been scratching at me, wanting to be written about. It’s pestered me with all the doggedness you would expect from it. So here I am, struggling to come up with an opening story to illustrate what it means to persevere and why it interests me
I don’t have a story. But that in itself is perfect. Because the essence of perseverance isn’t in the moment of triumph, realization, or reward. It’s not about outcome. It is, by definition, the steady persistence in a course of action—and here’s the best part—in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
I used to call myself the reluctant blogger. When the term blog was coined, I dismissed it as frivolous. I studied journalism in college before Al Gore invented the internet, at a time when stories were called articles and were written on electric typewriters (look it up). When blogs came along, it seemed that everyone and their brother had one, and it sort of ruffled my feathers that anyone could call themselves a writer.
Yes, I was a real snob.
I’m no astrologist, but in my experience, there must be an alignment of the heavens that causes someone of a certain age to crave ‘80s rom-com movies. Last night I found myself inexplicably searching for anything starring Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, or John Cusack.
I chose Serendipity, which isn’t technically an 80’s movie, but since it stars John Cusack, it counts. Incidentally, I once had my own moment of serendipity with John when he came into the Chicago spa where I used to work. He was taller than I expected, with a slumping, hunched-over posture that I assume comes from years of trying to be incognito. Unlike in the movie, there was no love at first sight, at least on his part.