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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Have you ever wondered about how some who've been singled out as "special" (and of whom you've never heard) managed to get into the literature?

I've never really had occasion to wonder about that until fairly recently, but having found myself approached by several writers over the past few years -- in the process of books they're working on has given rise to the questioning ... .

Does it really take no more than the living of a life ever so slightly above the fold? This appears to be what I've spent a lifetime doing without conscious awareness of it. There has been nothing, no one, to compare my life to. So few of us can do so except on rare occasion when something monumental happens and we're "outed" for some reason completely beyond our control.

There has been little occasion before the advent of the Internet for ordinary folks to share their lives in the way that I've been able to do over the past seven years.

The early experience through membership in Cyberspace through SeniorNet prepared me for trusting the virtual world with my truths. Through that online program for seniors, I've been actively involved in friendships with people I've never met and many with whom I've shared the most intimate facts of my existence; many of whom have now passed on. That led to blogging, and the ability to reflect on life as it occurs in ways that (I've now learned) are in no way typical of the lives of anyone else on the planet. The fact that we're all one-of-a-kind persons gets lost, doesn't it? Each on his or her own unique orbital path, and each subtly changing the world as we encircle it. I don't believe enough attention is paid to that mind-boggling truth.

Some time during December an author from New York will be traveling west for interviews that will include me in one of the later chapters of a book he is working on. There is a part of me that cannot believe that there is anything worth holding for posterity in the life of one woman with so few recognizable credentials that would merit that kind of attention. There's another part of me that sees cause for celebrating the extraordinary ordinariness of this one life. It's kind of like an Ira Glass of NPR's This American Life taking on the Nature of Existence; a bit more e.e. cummings or Charles Schulz than Will Durant or Aristotle; more Sarah Vowell than Joan Didion or Susan Sontag, maybe. But then why not, one might ask?

Tennyrate, I've agreed and will (some time this month) meet with someone who sees value in what he's learned from my writings and biography and who will add my story to those of others he's exploring for inclusion in his work. He will interview friends and family for a more complete picture upon which to build his portrait. I will be curious to learn just what it is that he sees here -- but perhaps that's the secret; to be written about is to be included in this great human experiment -- leaning with countless unknown others in the direction of positive social change -- trusting that we're all being propelled into a future that will bring humankind to its full planetary promise.

That sounds so nauseatingly preposterous; so utterly pompous! But how does one possibly absorb what feels like undeserved celebrity at my age? Would love to be noted for having worked out a reasonable bargain with Fate for another decade as rich as the past few have been. I'm beginning to suspect that the good stuff is cumulative, and that the least known fact is that they don't seem to begin until after one has entered the second half. It took that long to begin to see myself as a free-standing individual being on a solitary journey through time. Before that -- like most women, I suppose, I was a purely relational being, one defined by those around and dependent upon them for their existence. Perhaps the best of all worlds is to have the chance to live both periods vigorously; which I certainly did with the support of the two men to whom I was married (sequentially) and children whom I love dearly and am still sharing a significant part of my life with. Maybe more attention needs to be paid to that kind of transition so that it can be anticipated and more fully appreciated. Had I known ... .

But then, would I have lived any differently? Probably not.

Maybe living life in a constant state of surprise is preferable to any other alternative.

Photo: Photo taken years ago at the home of Archdeacon John Weaver of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California. We were meeting to discuss the upcoming nation's 1976 centennial celebration.

Lower: Author and noted humorist, Sarah Vowell.

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