We can’t make the only paths so arduous no one can walk them

A little over a year ago, I tried to write a post with this title, then deleted it, and put this old blog (which I think of fondly–like an old dog, but the dog of the self, who used to run after things I might not chase anymore) into maintenance mode. It has become harder, since I started keeping this blog, to write imperfectly, to accept imperfection in public spaces. And the purpose the blog once served has been served: I am no longer at home with children full-time, trying to write in the cracks. Some people will find much to criticize in my former thinking. I am reactivating the archive here partly for this reason–partly to refuse to efface the trace of the development of my thinking, to refuse to act (to perform) as though my thinking is and has always been virtuous and unassailable: it isn’t; it hasn’t always been; it won’t always be. We can’t make the only paths from here so arduous no one can walk them.

For my part, I think I have always tried–especially as a mother and as a writer, but also as a bereaved person, as a survivor of untimely parental deaths and religious fundamentalism and complex traumas, as a friend–to make the difficulties legible, to shout back down the trails I’ve travelled to anyone coming: “Yes, it’s a rough patch of trail! Keep coming!” Maybe there is no one listening, no one trying to travel the same stretch of the path (it’s hardly been the ideal route through the forest). Maybe the path stuff, that whole figurative register, breaks down under the burden of its linearity, its over-familiarity: I don’t care. I am going to keep using whatever language I can find, or hack together, to try to shout out (in full-on INFP fashion) that the present is still shot through with radiance every damn second, if we are interested in noticing it; that the future is still our shared responsibility, regardless of how hard that gets; that we always have the option to make things better instead of worse; that love and giving-and-receiving care and the happiness that these acts restore to our bodies are still possible everywhere; that it is possible, always, to make the paths less arduous for one another, instead of more difficult; that none of us need to be theoretically consistent or publicly approved or even at all virtuous to begin.

And, anyway (spoken as a middle-aged person), beginnings are overrated. Keep coming.


4 comments to We can’t make the only paths so arduous no one can walk them

  • Thank you for this Lisa. You inspire. Having started my own blog in 2006 I have often thought to go back and unload, either through intensive editing or deletion, a couple hundred early posts. Of course all this means, besides the rash belief that there are some that care, is that I want to be seen as someone who has always had a reasonable aptitude for the craft and someone who always knew what he was about, and that that “about” is something capable of shining while sailing in heavy existential weather. I’ve resisted. First of all, it’s not such a bad thing to retain the ability to cringe. It relieves one of moribund risk-management. (Besides, I’m old enough now to know I will always have plenty to be humble about.) More importantly however, scrubbing the underbrush of one’s personal evolution is a kind of self-destructive dishonesty. We are, after all, a wondrous agitated conglomeration of missteps and masterstrokes. We need such friction to light the fires and keep them lit. And so, I cheer you and thank you for allowing me, whether twisty, hilly or straight, to follow your real path.

  • Lisa Martin

    What a wonderful response, Stephen! Yes, all of this: how true, all of it. And to light the fires: yes!

  • Kathy

    Love this honesty and vulnerable writing. Thanks!

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