It has been some time since I have written in this blog, many months to be exact.  I could provide a plethora of probable reasons for not posting, and many may be true, but I do not believe these reasons could stand to be the crux of the issue.  The crux is deceptively simple and cliche – simply, life.  We exist in this world to climb mountains only to fall to cavernous depths and to run marathons, walk marathons, crawl marathons, and to simply never cross the finish line.  Life is about transitions.  We may cocoon like caterpillars in times of self-preservation, or we may awaken to spring with the buzz of a honeybee pollinating flowers.

As I sit here sipping a soy latte and enjoying some fruit, I cannot help but contemplate my dance with life over the last seven or eight months.  I returned to school in January to complete my degree following over a year and a half off taken for medical treatment and care.  I was aware that my life was incomplete, but I was not cognizant of the extent to which much joy was absent in my life.  I still harbored resentment for and contempt of my illness and often focused on the unfairness of it.  Though I knew I was making progress in my education, I still doubted my ability to complete in absolute finality my bachelors degree.  My apathy and stagnancy were interrupted by several monumental forces bringing forth a sea change in how I viewed myself, and also how I perceived my life to be.

In total blindness, I enrolled in a course at Portland State University entitled Women, Writing, and Memoir.  This seemingly inconsequential decision introduced me to one of the most amazing instructors I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  Not only did she reignite my interest in reading and writing, she began me upon a path of self-reflection and discovery.  As a part of the course, I began writing a memoir, which I still am working on to this day.  It has helped me to drop the rope, to let go of the hindrances of my past, the unfairness, the bitterness, and to use my experience and knowledge to enrich my life now.  My mind has begun to retrain itself to live in the present and to allow the present to flow forth with the lack of inhibition found in a waterfall, the rising and falling crescendos of a child’s laughter.  The late Lucy Grealy wrote, “I now knew that joy was a kind of fearlessness, a letting go of expectations that the world should be anything other than what it was” (Autobiography of a Face).

Writing has instilled a certain joy within me and continues to do so, with each drop of ink emitted from the tip of my pen or the chatting clicks of the keys on my keyboard.  But life.  Life continued to pass, and though I had jumped aboard the freight cars, still found myself towards the caboose.  I immersed myself in schoolwork, ardently attempting to finish undergraduate despite my qualms and fears regarding my potential.  And I did.  I finished, with honors.  I had anticipated deriving such satisfaction and pleasure from the moment I finished my last paper, presented my last project, walked out of the classroom door that last time.  The feeling of that moment was elation, disbelief.  And then the world began to spin again.  What was broken open was pieced together again.  My anticipated indelible mark was fading with each passing moment.

I have come to realize that a part of my life has ended, the specifics, the mechanics no longer any clearer than the foam at the dregs of lattes and cappuccinos. I write this as a eulogy to myself and my life, dropping a single rose, petals separating as the blossom falls to the earth where I lay to rest everything I have known myself, my existence to be.  As I sing the words of my eulogy, I commemorate the regrowth of my life.  I have cooked to optimum temperature and am emerging from the incubator far changed.

I no longer often contemplate the unfairness of my illness, nor the ways in which my life and relationships coursed as a result of sickness.  I have both walked and crawled my marathon, and either was effective in its own way, but I have now crossed the finish line only to find myself running another.  And this time, I shall run, and I lace my Nike’s with the knowledge that I am not running alone.  Towards the end of my burgeoning sprint in the last marathon, a man entered my life at a time unexpected.  He satisfied my appetite with curries and pasta primavera and shared my lust for knowledge and the written word.  Without him I would not be alive and well and able to gorge on coffee, though I certainly pale in light of his coffee-drinking abilities.  Yesterday, as we were watching Despicable Me, I fell asleep upon his shoulder for about half of the movie.  When I awoke, hair ruffled and mussed, I felt an overwhelming sense of the gift I have been given and the blessings I have received in him.  So yes, I write this eulogy for a time passed, but with the expectant thirst for what is to come.  Run, walk, crawl.  Whatever it may be, I will not be in solitary company.

I Am a Weeping Willow

This evening, I was perusing through a notebook of old poems I had written and came across one I had written in tenth grade.  The assignment was to compose a poem in the fashion of Paul Simon’s “I Am a Rock.”  Finding this poem created simultaneously within me feelings of happiness and sadness.  I have come so far, yet feel as though I still reside in such a place of darkness.  Perhaps this poem will have me searching ardently for light.

I Am a Weeping Willow

As sure as the setting of the sun,

My spirits, too, will plummet below the horizon,

Entering a world of perpetual winter, moroseness, and shame,

My soul utterly alone.

I am a weeping willow, I am a cave.

As sure as the rising of the sun,

My spirits will rise above the earth,

Mankind, the heavens, into a world devoid of winter and filled with elation and joy,

But equally occupied with pain, sorrow, and longing.

I am a weeping willow, I am a cave.

When will the sun stop setting and rising,

Tumbling me down from monstrous highs to unfathomable lows.

In my garden, only unwanted weeds of fatigue and apathy grow.

If only someone would tend to my garden before I am drowned in my own weeds.

I am a weeping willow, I am a cave.

And a weeping willow always bows her head to weep,

And a cave is never enlightened by the sun.

© 2014 Alexandra Shall


A Convergence of Paths

Quite funny, isn’t it

The way paths can run parallel

Different times, yet ever concurrent

Never to converge

Yet to cross often

In twists and tangles

Resembling interlocking stitches

Intricate patterns

A patchwork quilt

Whether it be falls or cuts

The leaking of a shared madness

Of unbridled brilliance

Beauty rests in the

Crossing, yet separation

Of these two souls

One has succumbed to darkness

While the other yearns

Earnestly to dance therein

Envious of such bravery

Obsessed, perhaps

Yet this bravery metamorphoses

Into an impetus for the

Second soul to live

A gift, carefully wrapped

Contemplate not

Accept this gift

The first soul implores the second

Toss not away this world

Worship the inherent light

Such a mystery, is this crossing

A rare offering, a blessing in disguise.


© 2014 Alexandra Shall