I think it’s the first question we ask ourselves once we realize we can walk. What now?
It snowed in Atlanta, and the remnants of the storm are everywhere. Behind my house there is a sheet of ice covering a fluffy pile of the stuff that initially elated everyone, then hindered our ability to do our daily routines before becoming an excuse and a reason to gripe about something we thought was so wonderful when it arrived. That’s how it seems to go.
My little dog, Nog, learned quickly how to maneuver through the yard, tip toeing lightly across the slick surface. Tater, the beagle we recently adopted, was less deft with his maneuverings. Clumsily plopping one paw in front of the other, it was something he never got the hang of, so he avoided it altogether. I stood near the bird feeder, encouraging him to come down to the creek, but was unable to gain enough of his trust that it would be something fun.
While standing in the glare of the morning sun, I watched my shadow recede towards me and I thought about the passage of time and the struggle to retain influence and an ability to be a part of other people’s lives. The footsteps from the day before, they were less distinct, and melting by the minute. And for a brief second I wondered who had unfollowed me today, and what I needed to do to get more friends on my facebook page.
Then I turned around, and saw a second shadow, cast upwards from the light bouncing off the ice. It was behind me, and was growing without my knowledge or permission. I would not have known it was there if I hadn’t walked away from the useless thoughts that were buzzing through my head.
Two years ago, this very week, I started working on my novel. As I’ve often stated, it began as a homework assignment, a self check to see if I could finish something that I started, or more importantly to stick with something I wanted to do, and not just flit around, teasing myself with half actions and imagined sufferings of my soul.
Now, the work sits with an editor, it’s been submitted for a copyright, I mailed off query’s to editors and agents and I am learning about the world of e-publishing. In the wake of all that I have accomplished, I ask myself, what now?
The work grew as I did, and I understand myself better as a person and a writer. What was born as a way to exorcise my guilt over a long lost son and my own journey to discover who my father was as a person, turned into a challenge to break free of the lives that we create for ourselves.
I never thought I’d be living where I am now. But that’s the beauty of it all. The unanswered question always lies ahead.