Thanksgiving, like all the holidays, can be difficult. Difficult when we live full and beautiful lives worthy of such gratitude, and yet our hearts still hurt from the rest of what just is.
I am estranged from my parents. I miss my parents – or what our relationship could have been. And since I refuse to ignore painful, hard, destructive dysfunction, I stay estranged from my parents.
These are the hard truths of what is.
It has taken me almost a year to write this here. Because I keep hoping it will all simply go away. I keep hoping this will not be much of my story.
And yet, here is, what is.
On this Thanksgiving Eve I sleep, with my nuclear family, in a rented ranch home on a beautiful 45 acres in San Luis Obispo County. Bears roam wild around the property (or so we’ve heard) which is eco friendly and spirit-welcoming. Although we do not share the religion of the owners, there is an unquestionable sense of peace and serenity in this place. Rainfall showers grace the bathrooms, the floors are poured concrete covered with the softest of rugs, and a yoga retreat room fills almost one half of the space.
The property is TV and wireless free and after a brief dismay (mostly the kids) we welcome the rest from the constancy of technology in our lives. Family formation happens in this space as we gather around a small bucket of Legos which keeps the littles occupied for hours building boxes, play cell phones, robots and other accoutrements of children’s life. Meanwhile we and the bigs play speed scrabble and listen to Stephen King’s one non-scary book “On Writing,” instructions for fellow writers.
As I listen I ponder, as I do so often, why the words and ideas that could change the world and so certainly live within me, do not flow out into the expected books I am asked so often to write. And I hear that one word, “formation.” Listening to the stories of an early Stephen King’s life I am forced to understand how primary the simple act of living is to the work of the artist.
Unquestionably I am under formation, as all of us constantly are. Yet some formation is pivotal to what lies ahead. You cannot force the words or the work. You cannot rush the art. You cannot release what has not yet decreed it’s time to be spoken. For now I am living the beautiful things and the hard ones too. Gathering strength and speed, picking up ideas and vision as a squirrel gathers acorns for the winter. I am forming my character, yes, but also my story, my message, my voice.