what changed?

formerly called, which one, which child would you sacrifice?

          a writing prompt

          You could save the world by torturing one innocent child.
          Which innocent child?

          William Stafford (teaching notes, provocative questions)

          to answer once better than already done…

The devil doesn’t mind predicament.   Neither God.
Do we navigate toward redemption or doom?   There!
Right there!   That thought just rolling off the roof,
splashing at your feet.   What choice did you make?
We turn our heads into wind or away from wind.
We think about the widening wakes we leave behind.
Too late for them.   Which innocent child sacrificed?
Observation of a choice already made.
          Which child?   Myself.
Answering another question, years later, she wrote, my doctor said, you should write just for yourself – write and post as if no one is watching but you!   She wasn’t the only one.   I already understood and agreed.   
However I said, this is a pin-cushion, not a switch.      Some history.
Of my former California home from child to young to middle age to the older me – I was painfully shy.   If I didn’t already know you or’d been introduced, I’d never start up a conversation with you.   Never.   Might as well have been a tortoise shell.   Honestly “being smart” was my mask.   Not genuine, but hard delivered, the appearance of true.   Then I moved to Washington state.
Everything.   Except for one.   Shyness got left behind.   No history no expectations, no one knowing me that way.   So I wasn’t.   It wasn’t a plan, but there it was.   Curious.   Not their fault, not my fault.   But real as a rock.
Before it was isolation that nourished me.    Being with people was burning my candle down.
Most folk go one way or the other, but not both.   Now I had a wick at either end.   Anyone, fair game for my attention.   Someone said, engage before people have a chance to turn away.   This was not the me I’d been for the majority of my life.   Words fail to describe,    new heart    new voice.
Two things about writing I should explain.
One.    I write because I was asked to write.   Years back, confused, hurting to be honest, I posed a prayer, the question – what should I do now?   Next day, some say meditate, I say listen, an answer introduced itself.   One word.   Just one.    write    No explanation, no detail, no write and publish, no write and be well received.   Not even “write well”.    write    No clouds opened in the sky, no voice of god, no nothing but that one word.      I took it to heart.
Two.   So I wrote.   I tried to learn, to express with better clarity.   I read, I wrote, think I learned along the way.   Engaging with others, that part, that I added in.   Vanity, sure, some of that, unavoidable.   I wanted my work to show, to be appreciated, to be engaging.   Ego doesn’t go away.   Of those who think ego’s been eschewed, that’s only ego taking the backdoor in again.
There’s the rub.   Two sticks making fire.   I don’t write to please anyone else, and really, what choice is there?   But a response?   That’s how I gauge my measure here.    This skin.    This warmth.    This breath.
This is the part where I’d go smoke a cigarette.   Punctuation.   But no.
So what changed?   It wasn’t seven hundred miles.   It was me.
And where’s the tail for this old dog?   Circular.   Surely you guessed.
It’s where the paddles come to water.   Sitting on my sidewalk bench, coffee in hand, I never felt a slight when folks passed by without a word.   Meaning only that I’d not reached out far enough, warmly enough.   A lesson for next time.   Nothing else.   The ending isn’t written yet.
          Somebody said,
          Every fierce battle in your life is with a paper dragon.

3 thoughts on “what changed?

  1. Sometimes passersby pause and read over your shoulder.
    I like that ending: it correctly (for me) answers the question posed at the beginning. Your experience with moving to a new state…Alas, I took myself along, having no idea how someone like me would behave.


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