Wrap it up

Last night I spoke in front of 40 plus men and women. A friend asked me to speak at a book club he attends. He wanted me to share part of my life story. The best and worst part of this was the timing of the invitation. I had little time to get nervous, and little time to prepare. There was no time to fret or write and rewrite. No time to try out new humor or second-guess myself. I had twenty minutes from the time I received the plea, to the time I stood up to speak. I admitted that I was still nervous even on such short notice but I would have been remiss if I had denied myself the opportunity to humiliate, I mean humble, myself in sharing my story.

I warned them that I am ADD and I often found myself taking rabbit trails here and there, ending up in places I had never intended visiting.  As I spoke, I realized that if I shared from my heart and tried to stay in some semblence chronological order, I would be fine. I looked at the crowd. Most of them were engaged. Some nodded fervently when they could relate. Some smiled. Some, well, some looked pained. I like to think they were relating to my pain rather than pained by the talk itself. The former is probably more truth than the latter.

I covered most of my story as it related to a particular experience of my life. I covered the loss I had experienced and the gifts as well. I told them how my life had changed and how most of the time I am grateful for that change. I was honest. I was real. I was trying to figure out how to wrap it up. I started to repeat myself. I said the same things different ways. And then it occured to me, there is no way to wrap this up because I’m still in the process of this story.

So often I end my blogs with a pretty bow but there was no pretty bow this time. I had to let it go. I had to stop right where I was and leave it at that. There was no clever way to end my story. No funny story to use as a closing. I simply said that every day is a gift and as long as I am open to receive it, I will continue to reap the benefits to living an honest life.

So forgive me for the times I write on this blog about things that are hard and then wrap them up with cheap words. I strive to write from my heart and sometimes I find an ending that fits. But sometimes I struggle to find the endings that fit so I create some less-than version of my story, which should simply be left in limbo. As I grow as a writer, I hope I will become more comfortable with the stories of my life and others’ lives that I can exist in the questions rather than the answers. And that I can  live with the sloppy, messy places rather than all of  the meticulous and pruned places I so often seek at the cost of my integrity.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Wrap it up

  1. This is powerful and important. It’s true, as writers, we want to bring things around, bracketing them nicely, putting a bookend at the end to prop everything up and keep it from falling off the edge of the shelf.

    But sometimes the books tumble down because the shelf is messy.

    I’m sure your talk was powerful for all the reasons you listed. It was real. It’s unfinished. If we wanted neat and tidy endings all the time, we’d read romance novels. But sometimes we do have a complete thought that can be wrapped up, so don’t feel that a particular post on your blog can’t have a bow. We do have revelations along the way.

    But you’re great for keepin’ it real.

    Great post.

  2. Your story probably spoke to more people because it was unfinished than if it had a Brady Bunch ending. And maybe laying it out there just as it is helped you grow a little, too.

  3. Tom

    I got the chance to eulogize Dale L. in front of a bunch (500?) of people a couple of weeks ago. Thank you for texting your support. It meant a lot. The biggest fear for me was that I would say something stupid or look bad (after all, it is all about me:-). So I asked Jacki, Dales wife to give me three stories about their relationship that I could tell which would illustrate the the qualities of honesty, open mindedness and willingness. I was able to give the eulogy using those three principles as the glue that held their beautiful relationship (and my talk) together. As a 45 year friend of Dale’s, I had plenty of stories about him and me but I wanted to give his marriage the credit it was due. I guess it turned out well, I was given a lot of credit for giving a good eulogy, but none of it were my own ideas, I borrowed from other peoples experiences and was able to string together a few words of tribute. In spite of my fears, God gave me the strength to stand up in a church pulpit in front of all those people and deliver it.

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