December 31, 2012 § 1 Comment


My friend Chrysta teaches first grade. She taught me a coping technique she uses with her students. I use it all the time to get through small things. Here it is: Brush it off (here you brush your hands together), move on (here you turn your hands in circles over each other, like when you do the locomotion), and put it behind you (this is when you act like you are pushing something back over your shoulders). Then, whatever has ailed you should be gone.  It works, say, when you get a rejection letter in the mail, or when you skin your knee. At least you will be smiling by the end.

It doesn’t work for larger losses or pains that cut to the quick of the heart, though. I’ve tried it, but they settle in and stay. The hand motions do nothing for these. There are things that aren’t meant to be “brushed off,” or “moved on” from.  There are people you never want to leave behind. That would mean that you could go back to being who you were before things happened. That is impossible.

What I have finally decided to do instead, is to remember the word my mentor and friend, Michael, used to sign drafts he had critiqued for us, his graduate students: Onward.  I don’t know about everybody else, but I took this to mean, this is not finished, but it’s worth digging into, worth keeping what’s true and shedding what isn’t moving at all. It’s time to put in some work to figure that out. It didn’t mean to abandon everything, to “move on.” It didn’t mean to quit thinking about it and pretend it never happened (though some of my stories at that time are probably better forgotten.) Rather, it meant to continue whichever direction the story needs to go—forward or backward or sideways, as long as you get closer to the essence of what is important, of what could be. So, that is where I am going in 2013: Onward.


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