Fine, Mr. -hang-out-with-modern-day-prophet-sorts-and-getscads-of-adoring-fan-mail-and-speak-at-sold- out-venues. I'm not sitting on my ass all day in a dark room, year after year, page after page, spilling my guts, martyring myself, my abs, my glutes, to the gruesome art of channeling the human condition for a whole lot of nothin'! Not wanting a direct line from this dark office to the bedside tables of people everywhere. Well, excuse my lack of spiritual enlightenment, but to me that's one thing: a colossal cop-out.
Or so I thought, until just this moment in my life.
Back to the novelist friend.
I retorted with, "The thing is, I'm good! I've been working at this craft for years and years, and I can honestly say with confidence . . . that I'm good! And it's not just me. Editors at major publishing houses love my work. My agent's never seen such positive rejection letters. But I don't have a 'platform,' they call it. I'm a no-name from Montana."
"You just need to keep writing. Stop thinking about getting published. But be careful. There's a vast difference between being detached . . . and being un-attached. You wanna shoot for the latter."
"But," I whimpered, "I'm in a spiritual cul-de-sac. I don't know how not to want. I'm very, very attached. Not in the least Zen. More . . . I don't know . . . Episcopalian."
He laughed. And I could tell he was withholding valuable information. Information that is only earned, not inherited. The Big Journey was all mine—just like Dorothy. God, I hate that.
But back to this moment in my life.
At this moment in my life, I am not sure where my husband is. He left last night to bring the trash to the dump after announcing that he's not sure he loves me anymore, and hasn't come home. He isn't answering his cell phone. He isn't responding to texts.
But I don't buy it. The part about him not loving me. As much as it's devastating to hear, I believe there's more to the story. I believe he's in a state of personal crisis. I believe this is about him.
I'm going to give you a challenge here. I'm going to give both you and me a challenge here. Let's try in all this not to take sides. Because how does it feel to take sides? Do we get to be right?
Self-righteous? I think there's more suffering in self-righteousness than most of us are willing to fathom.
I see it like this: we all have our seasons of personal woe. I've certainly had mine. I know how much he hates his job, how much he punishes himself for not making enough money and not knowing where to go next with his career; how stuck and desperate he feels, especially in our small mountain town where the high-paying jobs are NOT plentiful. I know that he's suffering intensely. I know because I've been there. I feel his pain and I've told him so.
But he's not hearing my voice. His own is too thunderous. He has to come to the end of it by himself. Just like Dorothy and me. And I know it's more helpful to practice empathy here. Not anger. Or fear. Even though his words were like sharp sleet.
It's like when teenagers scream "I hate you" and slam the door in their parents' face. Does that "I hate you" have credibility? Or does the parent know instinctually that something upsetting happened at school? That it's not about the parent at all? I'm not saying that my husband is acting like a teenager. (Or, God forbid, that I'm his parent!) I'm just saying that I think there's more to the story.