Occasionally I get a tiny email dropped in my inbox from none other than Ann Cannon, the saint of Utah's newspaper columns (also a successful author in her own right).
They're always just one liners, maybe two.
She calls me Doll or Sweetie.
Tells me she's read my latest blog post, offers the kindest regards, a short deep compliment I always need to hear.
Then ends with "Ann xox".
And, then I always respond with, "I am finding no time to write with all these kids I had, tell me it gets easier. Maybe when they're all in school?"
I have sent this S.O.S. a dozen times.
And she always replies, "Wish I could tell you it's get easier, but it doesn't. So carve the time out now."
Dear God, please let my children have an Ann Cannon in their lives, first of all. Let them have an intelligent, beautiful, creative and clever mentor like I have. I am so lucky. I feel that every single time I see her name in my inbox. It's a perk of humanity.
Second, here I am. I have nothing on but my sports bra and gray leggings. I am sweating in this corner office in the basement. My kids are playing a video game together shouting about lightening balls, stun rays and coins. The laundry is just about to "ding!" me for a change of machinery.
But I am here, carving out time because I want to be like Ann Cannon.
I want to be like Toni Morrison.
I want to be like Mary Oliver, Frida Kahlo, even Kurt Vonnegut.
And I want to recognize that we use the word "carve" because it means that we have to take a knife to our lives and reshape it so that writing can fit in. It's a blunt act. It means something will have to disappear, cut out of my life, so I can do this. This.
And perhaps to say nothing at all.
Except two things: the Carl Jung quote that is presently making the rounds goes like this, "Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”
This, this is why I cannot give up writing all together. And this is the core struggle of my life--to not let parenting these four gorgeous beings, or wifehood to a good man be all there is to me. I have to let them see me separately. I have to leave behind a record of who I am. Because I am convinced that someday in their lives they will recognize that they're missing pieces of who they are, and want more context. Maybe they'll see that the mystery of their lives is the part they didn't know about who their parents are, what they believed, wrestled with, went through, and what they thought about--and how all of those things shaped who they are as differentiated adults.
My fully lived life starts with writing. Retreating to this room, sweaty and shirtless, is part of showing them that I am not them. I am me. And perhaps more importantly, that they don't have to be me.
And secondly, with the passing of beloved Toni Morrison last week I found this shattering quote, "We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."
I am measuring my life, line-by-line. Writing is a power that will endure past me. And even if it didn't, it is the point of my life to witness time. I will die, so I must write.
Thank you Ann.