Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Discovery consists of seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. Albert Szent-Gorgyi

WHY? Why a blog about being 70?

An epiphany: Mrs. Horton was reading Tom Sawyer, a bit each morning. Sunlight was bright through the glass bricks that made up part of the eastern wall of the room I wore my new chartreus wool skirt which had a hidden delight, the seam binding on the inside hem was print, I looked at it and was enjoyed what could be sewn at home. Maybe Mrs. H. had told us about Samuel Clemens, who was called Mark Twain and had lived in Hannibal, Missouri on the Mississippi River and had been a boy like Tom Sawyer. In one sun lite moment I realized that stories don't grow on trees. A person writes the words and then everyone can read the story; it could be in a book and the book could be in a school or a library or one could even have her own copy. A real person can be a writer. I am going to be a writer! And so I have been from that moment. I think I wrote a poem that day about a river. The river I knew was the Ohio but I knew it became part of the Mississippi.

Writing has always been easy and a pleasure -- always the pencil or pen and the paper are available. A farm girl, no friends nearby, the diary page always welcomed my words, my secrets and the ordinary things, weather, Sunday dinner. I've never doubted the words would come, never known writer's block. But I've never had the extreme urge to tell my stories for others that propels the successful writers. Writing is part of life like cooking, laundry, baths, sewing, listening to music, reading.

But writing gives back something other activities don't. The words flow and tell me thoughts I didn't have before. Now that I have 70 years of life behind me I find myself writing little bits of memory, like the classroom scene above. I have never needed to expurgate an awful childhood. Tolstoy seemed correct about happy families not being the stuff of great novels. I did not know alcoholism, abandonment, violence, incest. Parts of the intellectual world are beginning turn from the concentration on illness and neurosis and look at what works in human life, what brings happiness, balance, harmony, resilliencee. No, my life hasn't been all roses and not at all the expcted, but I like where I've arrived at this point.

A piecemeal exploration is my aim. It include youth, of course, but also those moments of histoy I share with all my age: Kennedy's assassination, the first steps on the moon, Nixon's resignation, when the Berlin wall fell, 9/11. I remember when our house got electricity and a crank telephone, my first electric typewriter, my first airplane flight, my microwave, my ATM card, my first computer experience...

Writing and remembering and watching how the words tie unexpected elements together -- it produces surprises, discoveries, insights, and smiles, sighs. That's why I've decided to use this new tool for exploring this age I've never been before. I hope there are surprises and some fun.

(Above is the school building in Versailles, Indiana in which I spent 12 years learning everything from "See Spot run" to typing 80 words a minute.)

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