Wisdom from my aging minivan

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CHECK FUEL CAP

Off and on for the past several weeks this notice has scrolled across the digital display on my minivan’s dashboard. And I have followed orders and checked said fuel cap, but to no avail. Nothing ever seems wrong with it. I unscrew it and then screw it back on and still, I am told, “CHECK FUEL CAP.”

Even the mechanic was stumped, but he’s a nice guy and ran some tests and when they all came back negative (positive? Which is it for cars?) he slapped the inspection sticker on my car and said, “Let’s pass it now before it changes its mind.”

If I had the time and energy to reflect on these quick words that flit into and out of my life with regularity these days, I might find solace, inspiration, humor, or even a directive from a spiritual wonder I will immediately feel guilty for not having believed in before.

But instead, I just feel tired. Those words, they are harbingers of doom. Soon, my car will give up its ghost and I will have to do the work of buying a new one, and then I’ll have to do the work of keeping it clean and yelling at kids who try to eat popcorn or drink ice tea within its smooth leather interior.

Here’s the thing. These days, I am consistently devoid of the will to reflect.

The other night I sat in a circle at a local pub with other writers, people I have met with on a regular basis for five years now, and we all checked in about our writing lives. All I had to offer was, “I feel like I need to spend a week looking out a window, and that’s not happening any time soon.” I listed all the writing I did for work, all the time I spent with words, and moaned that there were no words left for the projects that make me feel like a real writer.

They were sympathetic, but what really helped was listening to them talk about their own, much more robust, writing lives and realizing: I am the only one in this circle with a fulltime job. I am the only one in the circle with more than two children who still live in the house. Of course I’m failing to accomplish goals on all fronts. There are too many fronts.

This is not new news. You’re probably all sick of hearing me complain about my lack of temporal resources. But for some reason, it’s a lesson I need to learn over and over and over. I am a finite creature in a finite world. I can accomplish this or that, not both.

This is the long way round of an explanation as to why it’s been so long since I’ve written here. I thought about stopping completely. I figured that if I need more time to write the things I want to write, it makes sense to cut out the things I like to write but feel no pressing need to write.

But then I realized that this space provides me with something I don’t realize I need until it’s gone. A place of reflection. While no novel is going to erupt from these digital pages, no book deal is going to land in my lap and make it all worthwhile, no lives are going to be saved or illuminated, this is a necessary space, even if just for me. My brain works better when I write here. So I’ll keep going. I’m selfish like that.

Thank you for reading. I really mean that. There’s a lot out there calling our names, and any time you allot to my corner is a gift that I feel deeply appreciative of.

That’s all. I hope the sun is shining where you are.

13 thoughts on “Wisdom from my aging minivan

  1. Andi your words always enlighten and cheer me on as they remind me of the days when I was in your boat (the three boys, the ratty car–in my case a heaterless ancient vw bug in northern Indiana– the several jobs, the endless grad school for me, the many prints and drawings of home-from-school sickies that filled my portfolio each semester) and I actually miss the sweetness of that time. I sense that you don’t miss out on that, and that is so inspiring!❤️

    1. Gwen! I think of you so often when I’m overwhelmed by the family/work/creative nonbalance. You are an inspiration.

  2. Please keep going! I often have the same debate with myself about the usefulness of where I spend my written words. But I think there’s something special about sharing these off-the-cuff observances and thoughts. And if you stopped sharing your words here, I’d miss you very much.

    1. And I would miss your life updates, and photos of your goats, and pictures of your delicious-looking bread if you were to stop posting!

  3. And here I’ve dropped off posting on my blog, because I’m “not sick enough” to warrant it. Which is a ridiculous idea.

    I’m here to tell you all of it is still there, whether or not you’re getting to flex that muscle on a regular basis. I know because once every couple of weeks I meet a friend at the library (when she can get her toddler down for his nap while the sitter is there) and I open my laptop and I only have an hour and I just get the writing done. It will always come when you want it to.

    And I’ll always be delighted to read it.

    1. You are a dear. And also, I’m actually supremely happy that the reason you occasionally consider suspending your blog is because you’re TOO HEALTHY! But don’t stop writing your blog. Because I love it.

  4. Please keep it up when it is possible for you. I love to read writer’s thoughts. I am looking forward to your next book, too, though! But,hh I feel your pain on this. I do. I naively thought that with my kids supposedly out of the house, I could write more in the evenings. I even, FINALLY, had a home office. Nope. Back they came. With their drama. With the same old teenage attitudes, but demanding to be seen as adults. It doesn’t mesh well with preparing my first query letters!

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