I deliberated a while finding a topic for today’s post. Nothing I considered appealed, and then the theme came from that very indecision.
I’m struggling with practically everything lately, while I assist my 85 year-old mother through the last of her life. She suffers from severe dementia, which has numerous complications ravaging her body. Last week, her doctor placed her under hospice care. As her only immediate family, it is difficult to keep enough vitality in myself to support, comfort, and enjoy her at this stage as I truly wish. My life has been turned upside down and quickly reduced to the bare minimum of what is essential and what is healing.
Learning what activities revitalize my spirit has been a process of trial and error. It’s much like times I’ve been both tired and hungry, standing in front of an open refrigerator door, too exhausted to imagine what I want to eat, requiring direct sensory input to make the decision. In the past weeks, desperate to strengthen my crumbling spirit, I’ve sampled all my usual pastimes and activities. Most gave me an ill feeling, like considering a distasteful food. The effort to determine what worked further drained my limited strength.
Then, I attempted writing new material on my current novel. Many folks advised I wouldn’t be able to concentrate, and it was difficult to begin. But, after a short while, my characters invited me to travel along with them as they rode dragons over mysterious lands and learned ancient secrets of their fantasy world. Chapter after chapter rolled smoothly off my fingers. My mind felt clean and rested, rather than cluttered and tired. My lungs relaxed and filled more fully. Magical.
As I analyzed the release my writing gave me, I considered how I might feel if my characters faced real-life dilemmas, with pain and suffering they had no special powers to circumvent. The stark parallel to real hardships would, for me, strip away the healing nature of my creative process. I need the larger-than-life expanse of fantasy. Stretching my imagination to create new worlds is an exercise that delivers a drug-like rush to my mind. Normally, I think of that as an addictive process, but now…it is purely healing.
Out of the hardest times, you come to know yourself better. I am grateful for that much.
(This is cross-posted at The Speculative Salon.)