I AM NOW ABOUT 85% done with my next memoir, entitled “A Wild Path.” As the word memoir implies, it is a look back at a lifetime of experiences, many of them marvelous and wonderful and leading to a good place from which to write a memoir. But not all of them.
Particularly when we are children–innocent and dependent and impressionable–we are also vulnerable. Vulnerable to the vagaries and cruelties of others. Of the world. Of life in general. As I reflect upon such things, the thought occurs that perhaps our main job as adults is to overcome and rise above the wounds of our childhood. No childhood is perfect, and even those of us blessed with happy and secure growing up years, as I largely was, are subject to such wounds. These injuries leave scar tissue–sometimes noticed and noticeable. Sometimes hidden. And sometimes repressed or purposefully forgotten. The scars can leave stiff or awkward places. Places that are perhaps extra-sensitive, or, maybe, numb and unfeeling. Places where perhaps we do not function optimally, or even normally. Or not at all. Places we may be extra careful of, and quick to defend, or to build protective armor around, even though the original pain is long removed. Even so, the scars linger on. The wounds have their own memories.
So as we grow into true adulthood–a place not everyone reaches no matter their age—we find, if we are aware and honest, that our old wounds and scars hold us back. Perhaps they make us frightened or timid. Maybe overly aggressive. Sometimes they cause us to hide, and shrink from further injuries–even though we are not vulnerable children anymore.
As I look back at a life filled with small fears or large ones, with ambitions and triumphs and failures and paths traveled and other paths missed; as I look from the elevated vantage point of a certain number of years and the feeling that, yes, I did eventually become an adult–with an adult’s ability to think and act independently and responsibly, with a minimum of irrational or unnecessary barriers—I have a feeling of some peace. On some days. Certainly more days than not. It is enough peace to be able to sit and write about a path, a journey–through a beautiful wild world, filled with beings and creatures and people who all inhabit the same strange and wonderful universe and green planet that I do. And as I gaze at the path in retrospect, I am grateful for it all–even the wounds through which I had to grow, because the growing was, after all, the whole point.
I know I am not alone or unique in these feelings or observations. Every path is a little different, but we all travel through the same lovely yet challenging terrain. The book is going well. I like it. It will be done soon, and published by University of Minnesota Press. All of the looking back has been in a sense its own journey. And has made me appreciate every step, every sunrise and sunset, every dark night and bright morning, and every helping hand and encouraging word along the way. As I often inscribe when autographing a book… Good Journey.