The mornings are becoming colder and wetter. I took this photo yesterday, when the early morning fog was thick and the monte was silent, except for the light drizzle.
My teaching schedule is practically full. I thought it would take more time for that to happen. Everything I read about the company suggested that they had hired more teachers than necessary, leaving some without enough bookings. But I usually wake up to an almost-full day. I’m lucky I live in Europe; the time difference is very beneficial. If I still lived in California, peak hours would start at 3 am. Here, I’m able to work from 9 am to 2 pm. Even luckier, I can go for another walk with my dog on this beautiful hill after lunch
My new name for NaNoWriMo is No Edit November. The words are falling out of my head so awkwardly. Are you sue you want this? Have I really been thinking about these characters and world for years? It does not seem so.
But I do want it. I have no idea where this sentence is going. I look up the page and find something stupid. I quickly move my text cursor, delete, rewrite. Well, I failed again.
It’s Day One, and it’s a slog. I am not used to trying and failing at new things, failing spectacularly. I rarely give something a second try. My big stupid ego immensely limits the human chained to it. If something doesn’t click quickly, I move on. But I can’t move on from this. I don’t want to.
I glance at my email. An email from NaNoWriMo and author Anne Lamott awaits me:
“You either start now, or it is not going to happen for you, and you are going to wake up at seventy years old (or eighty, if you are already seventy) filled with sorrow that you let your dream, your passion, gift, fall by the wayside. You start now, as is.
‘As is’ is the portal to creation, to new life.”
I close the email, get back into iA Writer, and keep trying. Keep failing.
Because I want it. But for the love of all this is good and holy, do not hit backspace this month.
This morning, I’m thinking about Fernando Pessoa (or Alberto Caeiro?)’s The Keeper of Sheep, VII:
From my village I see as much of the universe as can be seen
from the earth,
And so my village is as large as any town,
For I am the size of what I see
And not the size of my height…
In the cities life is smaller
Than here in my house on top of this hill.
The big buildings of cities lock up the view,
They hide the horizon, pulling our gaze far away from the
They make us small, for they take away all the vastness our
eyes can see,
And they make us poor, for our only wealth is seeing.
I went up the monte twice yesterday, once in the morning with Alqo to stretch our legs, and again in the afternoon before sunset with both Patricia and Alqo. Toward the top, there is a fork in the path. We’ve always turned right, which leads us a little bit further, past a grove of oak, and ultimately to the winding road we live on, further down the monte.
Instead, we turned left. With my new eyeglasses, I can see much clearer (my prescription doubled since the last time I changed them, which was far too long ago). And the view that awaited us when we reached the actual top was spectacular.
We could see the other forest path that we take often, that leads past an isolated goat farm with two very protective dogs, past the heavily-shaded area where Alqo ran off to chase a deer a few days ago after sunset and left us a little distraught and searching for him in the dark for what felt like an eternity, and towards another village, A Aira Vella (pop. 6) that we walked to, meeting only an older woman and three dogs. We could see the rain in the distance and a section the autovía. Some of the trees are turning a faint yellow and brown, adding to the autumnal feeling.
I remembered Pessoa and specifically The Keeper of Sheep, how I was able to share him with a fellow Peace Corps friend, how his translated poetry found me at the time I needed him, how I used read him on the veranda in my small village in Sierra Leone, and our short life in an apartment in downtown Cologne; the constricted vision, and how my walks with Alqo were confined to a city block.
All of it was written in some sense, necessary to have this moment of pure gratitude up there of where we are now, what we do, and who we aspire to be.
I’ll hold on to this feeling for the day.