The Front Porch Light

Yesterday I learned that the number of days I can go without posting here before kind-hearted readers reach out to inquire about my well-being is 7. 

This blog, it seems, on top of whatever else it might be, is also, as I wrote my (concerned) friend Dave, a sort of front porch light. When the light goes out, or flickers, the neighbours get concerned. 

I love that. And apologize for causing worry. 

For in truth, everything is peachy. To be able to write that, after the kind of years I’ve had of late, is a hard-fought achievement. 

The thing they don’t tell you in grief school is that after the dreadful fog of loss starts to recede, the road of “what the hell do I do now!?” rises up to greet you. 

At worst that’s paralyzing, and encourages facing inward, downward, into a cocoon of “okay, I’ve figured out eating and laundry, now I just grit my teeth and avoid sudden movements.” I’ve taken that tack, by times. 

But in February I decided to try facing outward and upward. I found a therapist of the “help me figure out what next” type, and started to, if not exactly come up with a plan, at least to sketch out the terrain. 

And that has been the grand adventure of this year, exploring that terrain.

It’s been hard. I’ve had high highs and low lows. Sleepless angsty nights. I’ve filled up a thick journal with my emotional wranglings. I’ve dealt with rejection, and shame, and emptiness. I’ve cried tears of sadness, and longer tears still when I’ve felt the deep sadness passing. But I’ve also enjoyed moments of true connection and beauty. And I’ve become more confident as I wander, venturing into new and unfamiliar corners.

My friend Peter wrote this today:

But there are lots of reasons to be hopeful. As Max Ehrmann’s epic poem Desiderata says: “…in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” There is no end of broken dreams in our midst, with many recent reveries shattered by COVID, but it is indeed still a beautiful world. And PEI is a particularly special part of this beautiful world.

That is a good thing to be reminded of, and something I have found my way to on my own.

Many years ago my friend Tim, at a time when I’d just dropped out of college and was particularly angry and listless, told me that I was defining myself by what I wasn’t, not by what I might be. That was sage advice then, even more so now. And it’s what I’ve been trying to do.

So, yes, I am okay. 

On occasion my wanderings will take me away from this space; fear not, I shall always return. And I shall endeavour to send proof of life at least once a week if I end up at the end of a remote archipelago.

Proof of Life print, in red on yellow paper, with an ink spatula covered in red ink overlaid.


Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on December 21, 2021 - 15:16 Permalink

:D yes.

At the end of my university days, when I was in a deep depression for a very long time, my former flatmate and dear friend H had this uncanny ability to show up at my doorstep right when needed..... then it dawned on me he used my usenet and email lists activity or rather lack thereof as indicator. It still do that myself too, trying to notice differences in online posting patterns.

Nicky's picture
Nicky on December 22, 2021 - 06:22 Permalink

I too was beginning to worry! So glad you popped into my inbox this morning. 🍑

Juliane 's picture
Juliane on December 22, 2021 - 06:35 Permalink

Always good to hear from you.