a couple weeks ago i was on the phone with AT&T. this was the fifth phone-call i’d made to them in a span of only a few days. i will restrain myself from discussing my opinion of their services, since it is they who monopolize the internet connection for our county (oh, did i say monopolize? i meant provide), and most of you would not be able to read this were it not for their supremely iron-fisted rule. excuse me, superb internet wi-fi reliability.
my operator of the day was named david. he was in st. louis, missouri. i always ask where they are from, it helps me to consider them as human and thus helps to suppress my killing instincts as the call goes on, and on, and no end is in sight and they can’t help but charge me obscene amounts of money and they continue to sound like a robot. so i tell david of my troubles and he says, “don’t worry miss ganz, i am ready to take ownership of this issue.” he said this, like, three times. it must be in bold font at the top of his script or something, a sentence (the only sentence) he was given permission to use by his superiors to respond to just about any complaint given by a customer. and the funny thing was, i actually did feel soothed by this framing of the situation, this wording. ah, i thought, he’s taking ownership, finally i can relax.
ownership. flipped around to become the personal and the affirmative that word has a power to it. lately i’ve been wanting to write again. the farm season is drawing to a close, my time is freeing up, and the forecast calls for many rainy days of potential uninterrupted indoor writing. but i’ve been sluggish to begin. i keep finding excuses not to write, and reasons why it doesn’t make sense to even try. i feel fear – of failure, of judgement. i feel resignation – that its all been said before. i feel that there must be more important things to do, less frivolous then this thing called “writing.” but what if, as david of missouri so strangely and eloquently declared, i took ownership of my writing?
this, of course, is easier said then done. it takes some exploration on my part, to understand why i don’t write even though it is so enjoyable for me, so satisfying, and so deeply life-affirming. i am beginning to see that one reason it is hard for me to write is because writing does not have a measurable output. i spend the majority of my year doing. we wake up at dawn and i feel a deep sense of purpose – to don my work clothes in the early morning light and go outside to tend to our fields. we plant seeds, pull weeds, write emails, harvest flowers, dig beds, till in salad mix, arrange flowers for weddings, sell our wares at the farmer’s market and go to bed at night tired and fulfilled. i think i actually feel most relaxed when i know that i have been productive, that no time has been wasted that day or that week. so when it comes time to slow down and relax, embarrassingly enough, i struggle to do it. i can see that somehow i have confused my level of worth with the level at which i perform. i feel validated when i am busy. and at the base of it, if i wriggle way down into the depths of my self-created conundrum, i see that i’ve over-simplified the equation: (being productive + being busy) x being helpful to others = being loved.
which is where the idea of ownership comes in. no one else knows i’m working under the governance of such a messed-up equation; only i can recognize when that is my story, and only i can re-write it. which means i’m going to have to take some serious ownership of my writing. to me this means letting myself feel the obligations set into motion by my soul, not just the often louder and more insistent obligations of my farm business or household. otherwise the chores inevitably win out. vacuuming the house because it really is filthy right now will always win over taking time to write. so will ordering seeds, fixing the car, shopping for groceries, updating our farm’s website, making holiday presents…the list continuously mounts and evolves seasonally, drawing me away from, as stendhal once said, “the thing which gives [me] more pleasure than any other conceivable action.” well, he actually said, MAN is not free to refuse to do the thing which gives him more pleasure than any other conceivable action, but we’ll just ignore the man part for the moment and assume deep down stendhal supported women in pursuing their passions too.
so from now on i will aim to wake up in the morning and say, “don’t worry miss ganz, i am ready to take ownership of your writing.” i am ready to write freely and rollickingly (thank you brenda ueland). i’m ready to tap out some pages on the computer that may be crap or may be brilliant but at least there will be some tapping. i’m ready to forget the chores for the moment, turn off the internet, sit by the fire and write.