I’ve had a really hard time getting out of my own way lately. So, I asked myself this very question.
OK, Lisa, are they real or imagined?
Damnit, I had to answer honestly…most of them, of course, are imagined.
They aren’t barriers per se, they’re just excuses—everyday run of the mill, tried and true excuses I’ve used for years and years and will continue to use far too frequently. However, now I have to face at least a little personal accountability, especially around my creative goals.
So, what barriers are you willing to bust through to reach your goals?
HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP
when you leave at seventeenrarely homemore than two weeks at a time months, years and decades
can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthoodonly once
in the summer of ‘88a recent college gradwide-eyed and wanderlust-fueledmy tonsils required moreI stayed a whole monthonce healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visasoff to the southern hemispherea young pioneer in search adventureand different starsnow, when visiting after a lifetime lived elsewheregrey hairs visibleno matter my effortsI find myselfsliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts
driving Dad’s truck
windows down, hair blowing
mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty
a determined cellular homesteader
forever staking a claim in my blood and bonesI want to sneak out to the barplay Space Invaders
sadly, no longer a standard
unlike 1982drink beer, eat junk foodand avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-upLooking back with midlife sensibilities
I realizethose late nights in high schooltenth grade, I believelaser focused, playing Space Invadersprovided a surprisingly valuable education initials entered, quarters stackedprotect the bunkers, defeat the aliensmonitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance my peripheral vision unknowingly trained to notice things beyond immediate scope
bonus points pingedwhile friends waited impatientlytwenty more minutes, pleaseunder a waning August moon
only one lunar phase agoI was still my father’s daughtera middle-aged, South Dakota teenagerpretending time actually plays trickswanting desperately to disregard reality one more visit on the calendarone more phone callcheeseburger or ice cream cone one more evening watchingEverybody Loves RaymondM.A.S.H. or Mayberry RFDtwenty more minutes, pleasequarters stacked no longerSpace Invaders
the nearly forgotten teenage relic
of a heartbrokenfifty-somethingfatherless daughter
I am protecting my bunkersmonitoring a new horizontal mystery shippaying very close attentionto what's just beyond my immediate scopejust twenty more minutes, please
Today, I picked up, “The Literature of South Dakota” by John R. Milton. This book was a gift to me from my grandfather when I was in college. It fell open onto a short story, “ARCADIA IN AVERNUS” written by my great, great uncle, Will Otis Lillibridge 1878-1909. Actually a pretty racy story for the time. “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” is the subtitle. Here’s the summary.
Unhappy wife leaves marriage of convenience for another man, the couple running away to the Dakota prairie to set up housekeeping. All seems romantically well… until the ex shows up. Surprisingly modern (if a little theatrical) novella from the early 1900’s. From the posthumous collection of Lillibridge short stories, A Breath of Prairie, 1911. Arcadia In Avernus
There’s a term that’s haunting me. In the short story a woman has a dream that she’s in a desolate place and she hears out of the darkness the sounds of human suffering. The voices grow louder and she sees a man and woman walking toward her. They are bent beneath a tremendous burden and both have wounds where they’ve carried the load.
In her dream she asks the man, “What rough load is that you carry?” and he wearily answers, “The burden of conventionality“.
“We dare not drop it”, says the woman, hopelessly, “lest that light, which is the searchlight of public opinion return, showing us different from the others”.
He answers her gently, “But the burden isn’t useless, the condemnation of society is an hourly reality.”
We all must carry the burden of conventionality sometimes. However, we also can choose to write novels (or join the circus or whatever) because we just never know how much time we have.
Thank you Uncle Will, you’re unconventionalness is a source of inspiration indeed.