Today made me weep.
It doesn’t really matter what went on – what matters is I couldn’t deep six my feelings. I thought I had it under control, then the GM sat down in the “guest chair” at my desk. “I sense you need something,” he said. I clicked on a part of the program intending to discuss another problem with him. I opened my mouth – then realized – it was a sob starting to exit instead of words. Clamping my lips together I stared at my computer screen. I blinked rapidly. Then I lifted my left hand waved him away and croaked out, “This is not a good time for you to be here.” He was gracious, excused himself and walked away. I sat there trying to regain my composure for a few more minutes. It was ineffective.
Eyes down, I walked out the front door of the business – and outside. Eyes still down – and aware that all the complex could see me, I walked toward the street, on the other side of the hedges, towards the oncoming traffic. Feeling like a naked idiot with tears rolling down my checks, I cut across some grass and headed toward the retention pond at the back of the property. I stood there for a long time, staring at the geese and the water-plants, trying to compose myself.
I returned to the office. I called two clients – clients who are favorites. I barely made it through the conversations. Both could tell something was wrong – and asked, yet I changed the subject. Then I walked into the GM’s office to “tell on myself”. Once again, I found myself helpless to be in control - which just angered me further. Madly wiping at my eyes I tried to talk about the geese. He cut me short and said,
“What is it? Idiots or Assholes?”
“Assholes who are idiots”, I said.
“Which were they first,” he asked?
“Assholes to my receptionist first, then idiots about how things work,” I replied.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Soon they’ll realize just what idiots they were to not acknowledge how much you know about this industry – and how stupid it is to piss you off. You’ll handle it and it will be ok.”
Time to leave the office came – but I felt little sense of relief. Tonight was a school night – I was expected to read a piece of work – to a guest lecturer. Knowing the topic of the piece – I felt vulnerable and exposed and was concerned I would not stay composed. I lucked out in class. I didn’t have to read the piece. Instead we had a drill on “Sense of Place”, and read that instead.
“Write about what you know”, the guest instructor said. “Take a second look at everything.” “Let the setting inform the character.” “Describe what it’s like to be in the place – not what the place is like”
I wanted to write about something I felt in control of – something peaceful – something healing. I’ve been struggling with Josiah (the main character in my novel), but knew if he’d been me today, he’d have gone to a peaceful place to regain his equilibrium. A place that restores his soul. So in the written drill he went to the stream. In the first person POV. Here’s the piece.
Anchors and Lines
The stream rushed around my feet. I was anchored to earth by the sheer weight of me. I was not as strong as the boulders just upstream – for they did not tremble in the current as I did. But at the moment I was balanced and equal to the water.
Casting is a way of meditation for me. Indeed, I’d had people happen upon me when I was fishing and they’d have to holler, “Josiah”, several times to break my concentration. Watching the water slip over the boulders, slide down the rock chute and into the pool puts me into a trance. The water as it slips and slides – is a sheet of movement – yet fixed in shape. I always shake myself a bit and remind myself to look beyond the water for the fish, hidden inside. Seeing the fish reminded me of the rod in my hand. An instrument sensitive to every flick of my arm. A shifting movement upward – and the line sailed past me toward the sky. A moment’s hesitation. Then a quick downward chop. Glancing back I see the direction of the momentum change. The little looping “u” rolls out as the line heads forward, and the tip of the leader gently touchs the water first, with the rest to follow. So deceptive is the presentation of the fly on the water the trout can’t resist.
I love watching the fish recognize dinner. With two swishes of a tail, his mouth surfaces below the fly. I tell myself, "Steady. Steady. Pause – NOW!" As his mouth closes I lift my wrist to tighten the line start the game of give and take. The game I play every day with my life. Give a little line here – tighten up a little there.