I Love to Write Day

Today is national “I Love to Write Day,” so here I am, writing. To be honest, I’m not sure if I do love to write anymore; if I did, I’d be spending more time actually writing than simply thinking about writing. And I do spend a lot of time thinking about writing — wondering if I will write another book, and if so, what sort of story I would write, and mostly what I would do with the book when it’s finished.

How much I wonder about what to do with a book I have not yet written, don’t even have a clue as to plot or character, for sure makes me wonder how much I actually love to write. If love of writing was the key, I’d be writing, regardless of the disposition of the finished product.

What I need more than anything is a story I can get involved with and to be interested in for the year it takes to write, and so far, I haven’t found it. What I would like — to the extent that I would like anything to do with writing — is to get immersed in a world that is completely different from the one I live in, to become a character completely different from who I am, to tell a story that only I could tell.

I’d also like to write in a different way from I’ve always written, perhaps as diary or blog, where I discover the story, the characters, and their fictional world as I write. With all of my novels, I needed to know the antagonist, the protagonist, the basic conflict, the beginning, and the end, and then the creativity came in how I got from the starting place to the finish line. The closest I’ve ever gotten to writing without even a sketchy idea of where I was going is Break Time, the collaborative novel I did with friends from the Five Eyes countries (United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Britain). Break Time didn’t work out the way it was supposed to. As with the first collaboration I created, the Rubicon Ranch mystery series, the project was derailed halfway through because although it was supposed to be an online novel, those involved were more interested in getting it published than in keeping with the original intent.

So what if I did that sort of project by myself? Write a novel online as a blog — as a daily diary — creating the world and the characters as I wrote. If I did it online, I certainly wouldn’t have to worry about the disposition of the novel — it would be published online in blog segments as each was completed.

I’ve also been contemplating using the tarot cards as my story finder — to do readings for my characters to see who they are as well as daily or weekly readings (depending on how often I want to update the story on the blog) to see what they are doing. For an additional interest point, I could post the cards I used to write each segment of the story, which would give an added depth to those who can do their own reading of the cards, relating it to the blog segment.

Is this something that would keep me interested for the duration? I don’t know. Obviously, considering how seldom I am updating this blog, I am quite content not to write at all.

But things change.

And who knows what the future will hold? Not I, that’s for sure.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Every November fourth for the past dozen or so years, I’ve been blogging for peace, though I’m not sure why I decided to participate in the first place. I don’t believe in “world peace” as a cause, and this year I’ve been particularly demoralized by all the wars going on in the world. Is this really who are? After all these eons of human life, is war still the only way we have of resolving international conflicts? Of defending freedom?

People always talk about the human race as if we are warmongers, and yes, some people are, most notably those who make money and take power from wars, but think about it. How many wars have you personally started? For the most part, we (you and me, anyway) are peace lovers. We shy away from violence, even in the name of freedom. Most of us don’t even start personal conflicts, though sometimes we do unwillingly get involved in contretemps we don’t quite know how to end.

When people accept that humanity will probably never be able to eradicate aggression and violence, they look to nature for peace, thinking of warm bucolic days when the only sound is a distant a bird or a nearby insect. But even that isn’t “peace.”

Think about it — there you are, having a pleasant walk through the woods, having a picnic in a meadow, or perhaps standing on top of a mountain. All is peaceful. Or is it? If your ears were hypersensitive, as is the hero from my novel Bob, The Right Hand of God:

All seemed silent, still.

His ears became attuned to the quiet, and he heard insects cricking and chirring and buzzing.

Then other sounds registered, sounds so faint several seconds passed before he comprehended what he was hearing: the relentless hunger of nature. The larger prairie creatures and the most minute devoured each other in a cacophony of crunching, tearing, ripping, gnashing, grinding.

At the realization he was sharing space with things that must be fed, he took a step backward and bumped into a tree, a gnarled oak that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Leaning against the ancient tree, he heard the roots reaching out, creeping, grasping, wanting, needing. He jerked away from the tree and fell to hands and knees. Blades of grass moaned under his weight, and the screams of wildflowers being murdered by more aggressive vegetation almost deafened him.

He opened his mouth to add his own shrieks to the clamor but closed it again and cupped his ears when he became aware of a long sonorous undulation deep beneath the ground. The heartbeat of the earth.

Yeah, right. Peace.

If we expand peace to a microscopic or even a cosmic plane, we see a stasis created by opposite but equal forces in conflict.

And yet . . . and yet . . .

Today hundreds, maybe thousands of people are peacefully blogging about peace, creating peaceful images, sharing peaceful words, contemplating peace, visiting each other’s peace blogs. A lovely day. A peaceful day.

We may not be stopping wars or violence. We may or may not be attaining peace within ourselves, may or may not be at peace with our world.

But despite all that, today seems less about peace and freedom (today’s theme is No Freedom, No Peace) and more about believing we matter. And we do matter.

At least I hope so.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Burden I Didn’t Know I Was Carrying

A few days ago, I wrote about rethinking this whole blogging thing. Since I had nothing else to write about, I’d been writing about the one thing I know — me — and I’d come to the conclusion it wasn’t healthy or smart to put so much of myself out there.

I thought it would be difficult to break the daily blogging habit of almost three years, but in the end, it was simple. I did what I felt like doing, which was keep my thoughts to myself. Actually, it wasn’t that I wanted to keep my thoughts to myself, but that I didn’t want to have any thoughts in the first place. It’s hard, of course, not to think, but it’s one thing to let one’s thoughts slide into the mind and then slide right out again, and another thing to try to sift through all those fleeting thoughts, capture one, and then expand on it for a blog topic.

What a relief to just let the thoughts go.

And I was right — the world did not come to an end when I stopped blogging every day.

What I found interesting is how this new non-daily blog habit has made itself felt. It gives me two or three extra hours every day. I imagine my breezy writing style makes it seem as if I jot a few words and then simply publish what I write, but it takes a lot of work to make something seem light and easy — writing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, adding tags to the blog so it will show up in search results, preparing a photo, publishing the blog, republishing to another blog, posting the reblogged link on Facebook. Even better, because I’m not blogging, I have no need to check Facebook and the blogsite and my email because there are no comments to respond to. So yes, a lot of free time!

Without having to think about what I am thinking, and without having to examine my days for a topic, I have a lot of free mental time, too. And I know that Socrates is wrong: the unexamined life is worth living. In fact, it might even be worth more than an examined life.

And then there’s the whole compassion fatigue situation. Because I am not a therapist or a grief counselor, I never would have thought such a state would apply to me, but over the past twelve and a half years I have mentored (for lack of a better word) hundreds of people through the worst of their grief, and I am truly fatigued. I have always felt powerless in the face of other people’s grief, but knowing at least to an extent what they are going through, I tried my best to listen and be kind, but now I am having a hard time summoning up any compassion or patience. I understand that to them, grief is new and ever-present, but to me . . . not so much. My life with Jeff is now far in the past and so is my grief for him. In fact, I barely remember what I went through unless I am reminded by people who want to talk about their grief. So, without having to deal with other people’s grief, I have a lot of free emotional time, too.

I don’t regret my work on behalf of grievers, in fact, I’m glad I could help, but now it’s time for me to let that part of my life go. So for those of you who need help with your grief or who simply want to talk about what you are going through, please check out the various grief forums and online grief support groups. I know a lot of people who found them helpful and comforting, and I am sure you will, too. (I will, of course, continue to respond to comments left on my blog.)

So, what am I doing with all this free time? Not thinking, that’s for sure. Not feeling much, either, except lightness at having shrugged off a burden I didn’t know I was carrying.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

The Year of Soylent Green

This is the year of Soylent Green, or rather the year that Soylent Green was supposed to portray. The novel upon which the movie was based, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, took place in 1999, but the movie makers moved things forward a couple of decades to 2022.

I’ve come across a few articles (one of which was sent to me by a friend) whose authors tried to figure out where the movie got 2022 so wrong, because, of course, we have not devolved to the point where the population is so staggeringly immense, corporate greed so all-consuming, and human life so worthless that the masses are being fed a mystery product called soylent green.

I don’t know why these authors are concerned that the movie got it wrong — after all, most dystopian movies don’t come true. Although some books are burned and banned, the world is awash in books, unlike the society portrayed in Fahrenheit 451. Although Big Sib (have to be politically correct, you know) does seem to be watching us, we have not moved into the extreme totalitarianism of 1984. And although we seem to be living in a society controlled more and more by corporations and technology, we have not yet moved to the robotic social order of Brave New World.

Dystopian literature is about extending what is or what might be into the furthest reaches of imagination. It’s not supposed to predict or preach or even give us a glimpse into a world we are fated to endure. Instead, it’s supposed to expose — perhaps — the truth of humans and what we can or can’t endure, what we can or can’t control, what we can or can’t accept if we wish to retain our humanity. It’s no wonder that in all of these books the authorities, whoever or whatever they might be, show the worst face of us. That lone dissenter, either hero or anti-hero, hopefully shows the best of us. As for the masses — all the rest of us — if the literature tells us anything about ourselves, it’s that we will be corralled somewhere in the middle, just trying to get by.

What so many of the dystopian books and movies of the 1950s through the l970s seemed to be trying to show were possible results of an unchecked birthrate, and no wonder. The population increased 5.5 billion from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 8 billion in 2022. Technology and agricultural advances made it possible to feed all those people or a great percentage, anyway. Despite a supposedly adequate food supply, 9 million people starve to death every year, a totally unacceptable number, and untold other millions deal with malnutrition because so much of the food that is available lacks essential nutrients.

Even though the world did not become as insanely crowded as the dystopian authors seemed to prophesy, our population still increased exponentially, though suddenly, any talk of overpopulation, whether in the dystopian literature, the daily media, or think tanks (formal and informal) has become taboo, making stories like Soylent Green seem even more stridently fanatical. Also, despite periodic whispers of a population cleanse or worldwide genocide, it will never happen. Why? There’s no money in it. Big business makes money with growth. No population growth, no profits. (Is it any wonder that any time the USA birth rate dips the immigration rate rises?)

If instead of disregarding the dystopian stories, if instead of creating more dubious agricultural practices and food products, we had been able to curtail the world’s population back in the nineteen fifties and sixties, we wouldn’t be dealing with a so-called climate crisis now. But then, cynical me says that there are fortunes to be made with selling more and more green vehicles and other green technologies to an ever-greater number of people.

So did the dystopian stories of the early and mid-twentieth century get it wrong? Not really — they got it right for the times. They just weren’t cynical enough, relying more on shock tactics of population bombs than critical thought about what effects a slowly decreasing population would have on the world economy.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Real Reality

I’ve been reading a book about cyber technology running amok, or perhaps people running amok using advanced cyber technology (so advanced, it hasn’t yet been created, though obviously it has been postulated by someone, even if only the author). To be honest, I’m not really sure what the story is about because unlike most books that I read at a single sitting or two or three (at most), the pages on this book aren’t advancing at all. I tend to think my slow progress has to do with my falling asleep while reading. (Well, no. I don’t “tend to think” that napping is the reason for the slow progress — I know it is.)

It’s no wonder the story isn’t keeping my interest. It’s hard for me to care about people —real or otherwise — who wrap themselves in the latest technology. I understand some body/computer interfaces could have (or for all I know, all ready do have) lifesaving capabilities, but I’ve passed my time of keeping up with current cyberlife. I use only a fraction of my computer’s potential, sticking with such basics as blogging, researching, shopping a bit, playing a game (though my interest in the hidden object game I was once fascinated with has been steadily waning). I certainly have no interest in the internet of things, a potential combined internet of things and persons, the metaverse, or virtual reality of any kind. I prefer to stick with real reality (or rather what passes for real reality since there is no real consensus on what reality is).

It is ironic, though, that despite my decreased use of social networking sites (I write my blog and spend about two minutes on Facebook going through the whole rigamarole FB has forced me into to post my blog on the site, but that’s it) I don’t feel as if I’m alone, though I actually do spend most of my time alone. It made more sense to feel as if I were with people back in the days where I was in fairly consistent contact with people, especially on the now-defunct writing site that was the best social networking site for authors, but now it’s more of a sense of being in contact rather than actually being in contact.

And then, of course, there are all those characters in the books I read that people my life.

I keep saying that one of these days I’ll start writing again, and I tend to think that day is coming soon. I was showing friends my zinnias yesterday, and it suddenly struck me that Zinnia would be a great name for a character. Later in the conversation, as we talked about lilies, it seemed that Lily and Billy would be great names for twins. Once an author has names, can a story be far behind?

I’m still “researching” the story. (By research, I mean I’m just living, but if I call my everyday life “research” then I can pretend I’m actually working as a writer.) Unfortunately, I still have no idea what story I want to write. It would be fun to write another “Pat” story, sort of a sequel to Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare. One visitor told me I have a ghost, so I’m considering a ghost story. One friend has told me a few of her experiences that makes me wonder if I want to write some sort of alternate reality tale. For example, a wildfire burned all around her house, and the people who used to own the place (who were still emotionally invested in the house) watched four tanker trucks circling her property, spraying the house and trees to keep the fire away. The firefighters working that day said they only had one tanker truck, and they needed it to keep them safe from the fast-moving fire. Even worse, they saw embers landing on her roof, and later told her they felt bad they couldn’t save her house. They were astounded when she told them the house hadn’t been touched.

It’s certainly interesting to speculate which reality was real — the former owner’s, the firefighters, or my friend’s. They couldn’t all be real, could they?

Someday, I am sure, a story — either this one or another — will gather enough strength that will compel me to write, and when that time comes, I sure hope the book won’t put people to sleep.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Liking What I Write

jockey

Sometimes I read an article I wrote, and I think, “I wish I had written that,” then it hits me that oh, wait. I did write that.

A case in point:

This morning someone left a comment on my post “Let It Ride,” telling me he was doing a podcast about the movie and wanted to know if I would like to join the discussion. Not remembering having ever written about the film, though it is one I like, I went back and read the post. The piece turned out to be not so much a rehashing of the movie (which the critics hated and apparently, so did the screenwriter, because she had her name removed from the credits), but a discussion of the philosophy of luck.

I generally do not like stories about gambling. They set my teeth on edge because of the inevitable slough of despair the character falls into when the addiction gets the better of him. Despite that, Let It Ride is one of my favorite movies, probably because although the story takes place at Hialeah amid the horse racing culture, it is not a movie about gambling. It’s the story of how the forces of the universe align to give Jay Trotter (Richard Dreyfuss) one perfect day, how he had the wisdom to recognize the gift, and how he had the courage to accept it. Not everyone accepted the gift. Even those who saw what was happening to him and were jealous, refused to follow his lead when he so generously offered to share the luck.

I think the part I liked most about that particular post was my summation: What does this philosophical vision of the movie teach me? Perhaps that luck — and life — should be taken as it comes, we should trust ourselves, and beyond that, we should just let it ride.

So, that was an example of something that I wish I’d written and had. On the other hand, there are a lot of things I read that I am very glad I didn’t write. The last book I read (or attempted to read) was a mystery written by a man from the point of view of an alcoholic woman journalist who kept sabotaging her life. It was a popular book, though I don’t know why. A writer struggling with alcoholism is such a trite theme; hundreds, if not thousands of books (though not a single one by me) have been written with that same generic character.

Another book I was glad I didn’t write was the one I read before that — a novel by a youngish white woman whose point-of-view characters were a flamboyant black woman and an old man (who turned out to be younger than I am). I thought such stories were no longer acceptable in a world where people don’t appreciate race appropriation.

I suppose I should be grateful that I like the things I write since there is so much writing out there that I don’t like. I also suppose I will follow through and email the guy about his podcast, though I’m not sure I’ll accept his offer. I really have nothing much more to say about the movie than what is already in this post and the one where he left his comment.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Reflection of What Goes on in My Life

When I blog every day, as I have for the past 1000 days, it’s hard to come up with blog topics, so if I think of something I might want to write about, I jot it down. One such topic on my very short list is “metaverse.” Apparently, the metaverse is like a three-dimensional internet experience where you can go into the virtual world and do things you do in the real world, like go to school or work, browse store shelves and shop, play games as if you were really there, and all sorts of other real life and virtual life experiences. There’s no such thing as a metaverse yet — so far, it only exists in science fiction movies — but all the big internet and computer and game moguls are working on it. (Which is why Facebook changed its name to Meta — it wanted a head start on the whole metaverse thing.)

I’m not really interested in such a concept. I have a hard enough time with the physical universe (to the extent that it’s physical, that is), and my internet usage is basic — blogging, researching, ordering things I need — so I doubt I’d ever be interested, especially if Facebook/Meta is involved. There are still blocking my blog, so I have to reblog it onto another blog and then post that link, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be doing that. Although I have a lot of friends on Facebook, I really do not like that FB is trying to control the narrative of our lives and our world and now, apparently, the universe.

Another item on my blog topic list was a quote from Thomas Browne: Life is a pure flame and we live by an invisible sun within us. I like the quote but never quite figured out how to use it as a blog topic.

The last item was something I just added recently “Reflection of what goes on in my life.” Huh? What the heck was I referring to? I doubt it was the tarot because it certainly doesn’t reflect what goes on in my life. The refection of what goes on in my life doesn’t refer to the books I’m reading, filled as they are with violence, murder, mysterious happenings, weird phenomenon, and sometimes a bit of romance. Considering that my yard, lawn, and garden are what I am currently focusing on, I suppose I could have meant those, especially my lawn, but I have no idea why I thought any of those things reflected my life. If I remember what I meant, I’ll be sure to mention it, but since there’s nothing else on my blog topic list, I’m tossing out the list, so chances are I won’t even remember that I wanted to write about something that’s a reflection of what goes on in my life.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Day Off

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a day off, not just from work but from . . . everything.

Having a day off from work is common now that my hours have been cut way back, but at this time of year, there’s always something to do outside: watering, mowing, weeding. planting. It got very cold last night, almost down to freezing, and it rained for quite a while, so today was not only too cold but also too sodden to do any outside tasks. Feeling a bit lost, I exercised a bit, played around on the computer, did the daily Wordle and Quordle, read a book, ate a meal, caught up on my gardening journal, dealt with my out-of-the-country friend’s mail. And that was all before noon.

I did go outside and wander around the yard checking to make sure there were no lingering effects from the cold. The only problem I found was me — I’d already become used to the heat, so the day felt much colder than it was. I considered taking an actual walk, but the rain started spitting again, so I came back inside.

And now here I am, writing my 971st straight blog post. (I’ve posted a total of 3,446 so far, but now and again I took a break from daily writing, so this current tally of 971 is just my latest spate of blogging every day

Tomorrow will be a lot warmer, but will still be too damp to do much of anything except weed. There’s always weeding to do, and with this rain, there will be a whole lot of weeds popping up.

On a completely different topic, I finally got my master brake cylinder replaced. Although the brakes work great, the warning light still comes on. It could be a problem with the sensor. It could be that it takes a while for the sensor to catch up with the new brake system. Or it could be . . . I don’t know. I’m going to try not to worry about it. I’d much rather the warning light came on when there is no problem because it reminds me to be careful, than for it not to come on when there is a problem. (Seven years or so ago when I was dealing with a crooked mechanic’s crooked employees, someone had cut my rear brakes and plugged the hole in the brake fluid reservoir, so although I (unknowingly) was driving without rear brakes — which caused me to have an accident — the brake warning light never came on to warn me of a problem.)

I’m not going anywhere anyway. I can get most of what I need right here in town, and I hitch a ride with a friend when she goes to the “big city,” our humorous appellation for a nearby town with a few more stores than this one. And, of course, there is the possibility of ordering online.

Besides, why would I want to go anywhere? I’m already where I want to be, even with — especially with — a day off.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Do the Job in Front of You

I’m reading a science fiction book about people being able to step from this Earth into multiple other Earths, as if all possible Earths were stacked together like a deck of cards, and people could go from one to another.

At first, it was kids who found a way to step, and suddenly, kids all over the world were disappearing. The cops didn’t know what was going on. Terrorists? Aliens? One young cop asked the sergeant-in-charge what he was supposed to do, and the sergeant relied, “Do the job in front of you.”

It’s funny how in a story about strangeness, such an innocuous remark should have caught my attention, but it seems to be good advice no matter what. For example, landscaping a yard and creating garden spots in that yard can be rather overwhelming. It’s not something that can be done in a season or even two or three. I’m starting my fourth season, if I counted accurately, and despite how nice some parts of the yard are, other parts are still quite wild and weed-infested.

I’ve never had much patience for such long projects — I’m more of a do-it-and-get-it-done sort of person. Or at least I was. Apparently, I am now someone who can embark on a project that will never be finished. Almost by definition, a garden is always in progress. Volunteer plants show up. Long-standing plants die. Weeds take over certain areas. The only way to deal with such a long-term, unending project, is to do the job in front of you.

This change in me, from wanting things to be done to being able to deal with things that never are done, is a holdover from grief. Grief is one of those things that are never finished, though oddly, grief comes about because a loved one is finished — finished with their life here on Earth. But for those left behind, it’s never finished. At the beginning, especially, it seems impossible. Not only are you going through the most horrendous pain and most confusing time of your life, you are faced with a never-ending list of end-of-life chores. A person who dies doesn’t just disappear. The body has to be dealt with. Their things have to be dealt with. The government has to be informed and dealt with. Banks have to be dealt with. The only way to get through all that is to do the job in front of you.

It’s the same way with writing a book — during the course of the months and sometimes years that it takes to complete a novel, there are thousands of decisions to be made. Some people can sit down and simply write, without a plan, without agonizing over every detail, but for others, writing is the details. And the way to write for those people is to do the job in front of them, whether a paragraph, a page, a chapter.

I suppose life is the same way. I tend to try to look into my future, to see what I can do now to prevent some possible effects of old age, but in the end, no amount of projection will protect me (or anyone) from the vagaries of life. All any of us can do is the job in front of us, and the job — the life job — is to live the best we can today.

Luckily, we are all (or at least I think we all are) dealing with a single Earth, which makes things just a bit easier to do the job in front of us.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Gardening and Aloneness

A friend called this morning and asked if I was outside taking care of my “baby.” Meaning my yard. I had to laugh because I really was taking care of things in the yard. The only reason I had my phone with me was to get photos of the larkspur and the roses that had begun to bloom prolifically.

Obviously, my focus on the garden and lawn hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, the growing beauty of my yard is rather a conversation piece, something to share with neighbors who get the fun of seeing what’s developing without having to do the work. Until recently, I’d never realized that about gardening — that it wasn’t a lonely project but something to share. In fact, a neighbor a few houses away is going to be sharing her garden with me. Literally sharing. Tomorrow evening, I’ll be heading over there to dig up some of her prolific plants to transplant in my yard. She said, “I love sharing plants. I can’t wait to share some yard pretties with you.”

And I can’t wait to get them.

Although I’m surprised that I’ve taken gardening to heart, since I’ve never really been all that much into gardening, I’m not surprised that I’ve become focused on something outside of myself.

When you live alone, you need something to keep you going, something outside of yourself to expand your reach, something . . . more. I have friends and neighbors, a couple of siblings I am in occasional contact with, and a job that occupies my attention a few hours every week, but the rest of the time, when I am inside and the door is shut, there is only me.

I will eventually get back to fiction writing, but for now blogging is all I can handle. Any long writing project, such as a novel, seems incredibly lonely. I spend too much time in my own mind as it is. Admittedly, when you write a novel, you people your mind with various characters, but that simply masks the truth of being alone.

Since I need something more than just me alone, it might as well be gardening. At worst, babying a yard is a lot of work. At best, it’s a joint creative endeavor between me and nature and a couple of neighbors. And in the middle, between best and worst, is a whole lot of yard pretties!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.