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Starting Over…

March 1, 2011

I had a comment yesterday from Pam, who wondered how we could just turn our backs on so many things that have been meaningful to us when we might possibly find that the full time RV life doesn’t work out.  We’ll never be able to retrieve those things.  It’s a good point, and one worth addressing.

A number of years ago, we had a fire that started in the garage.  With the exception of a few pieces I was working on, and a few that were hanging on the walls, everything I had done, going all the way back to my college days, was stored in the attic above the garage.  Drawings, sketches, paintings, notebooks, you name it.  It was all destroyed.  The eclectic collection of Christmas decorations that had been put together over the years was also gone.  All those little decorations that our kids had made or given us that we had hung on the Christmas tree… gone.  Boxes of photographs… all gone.

I’m the packrat in our marriage, and at first, it was devastating, and yes, there were times when I’d wish I still had this sketch, or those notes.  We missed the Christmas decorations, but eventually replaced them.  Over time, I realized that my life was continuing on without all that stuff.    What I’ve discovered in this current process is that we just started collecting stuff all over again.  And without all the old stuff to dwell on, I started doing new drawings, and started writing new things with fresh eyes.

I’ve written three full length novels, and part of a fourth.  Yesterday, I tossed the manuscripts for all but one of them into the recycle bin.  It took some time for me to accept that I was never going to edit them, and I was never going to submit them in hopes of publication.  Nell hated to see me do that,but then, she hates it when I toss a piece of art that I’m not satisfied with.  But they had been sitting on a shelf in a closet for several years.  Yes, I tossed hours upon hours of deep thought, research, and heavy duty typing into the trash.  I had spent months of my spare time on each one of them over the course of several years.  But I had never done anything with them once they were written.  I had long ago realized that what had been important to me was the writing itself, pouring words and ideas and dialogue out onto paper, just because I wanted to do it… and to see if I could do it.  I have no desire to sit on the porch in my twilight days and re-read those novels, thinking about what might have been.  I was satisfied with the doing of it.  And that has proven to be enough.  I have no illusions about being posthumously lauded as another Hemingway.  The writing was good, but it wasn’t that good.

So what do those novels have to do with destroying old art or getting rid of little treasures?  Just this:  I am becoming far more excited about the prospects of what I’m going to do than I am about what I’ve already done.  In order to look forward and focus on new subjects, new ideas and new adventures, I have to pack the old ones into my memory bank instead of letting them sit on shelves or in closets.  And as for those treasures, we’ll take a few little ones to put out when we’re parked for extended periods of time.  And I suspect we’ll acquire a few new ones along the way.  And they’ll simply represent another stage of our lives, just as the things we’ve collected in the last ten years or so have done for this stage.

Trust me, if we end up cutting short our dream of travelling fulltime, someone will still come along a few years later and wonder where all the new stuff came from.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2011 7:19 pm

    Ralph, I admire you because you are so prolific and doing your thing. I didn’t mean to burst
    your bubble. I just have so much admiration for what you do that maybe what you are discarding
    is really a treasure and not necessarily posthumously valuable to you or your family, still
    worth saving. I think that so many of your creations are, and when I can afford it, I will be
    purchasing some of your creations, big or small. But I love that you look forward and not
    backward…gung ho! Pam

    • March 2, 2011 7:30 pm

      No bubbles burst here, Pam. I truly appreciated your thoughtful comments. I’ve been struggling with some things needlessly, I think. I’ve got an article that I’ll be posting tomorrow that addresses one of those, related to my art. And I’ve got some ideas in regard to some of my older work as well. Thank you so much for the kind words.

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