Landscape of Life


When I think about life events, I’ve considered how they might change a person.  I do this now, more than ever before.  What hits us most hard are the occurrences that mean we must conform to something new.  The death of a family member, friend or pet.  A divorce.  A marriage.  The loss of a job, or the move into a new home.  A pregnancy.  A new job.  All these and so many others permanently affect us as individuals.

With the more dramatic life events, I find death is the most difficult event to process.  In the past decade, maybe a little longer, I’ve had two co-workers and a brother in law commit suicide.  Three people.  It astounds me I know three people who took their life by putting guns to their heads.  I found the body of young man on the beach.  That was back in 2001.  My son and I were walking on the beach, talking.  Up ahead I noticed a strange looking object that seemed, at first, to be lying on the sand.  As we came a little closer, I could tell this brown and black object was in a tidal pool.  I thought it was possibly driftwood, then I had the horrible thought it was a drowned dog, like a German Shepherd.  I began running, and then slowed down.  Oh.  It was a person.  He looked like he was just floating there, for pleasure. Except, a wave came in, a rather large one, and it was the lack of reaction that made me start running towards him again.  A looseness which told me, something wasn’t right.

And, it wasn’t.

Later, I found out from his family he’d been fasting and praying after 9/11 and was too weak to fight the rip current from a recent hurricane.

As many know, in 2012, I lost my job at Nortel.  That same month, I signed the contract with my agent.  Veritable ups and downs.  Then, a few months later, I had to euthanize my dogs, Bella and Kiwi.  A friend’s child passed away at only six years of age when they had to make the horrific decision to take him off life support. He’d developed a fever which triggered seizures. The medical staff couldn’t bring him out of his drug induced coma because the seizures began again.  He had a twin brother.  What did this do to him?

And then there was Dad, who passed earlier this year.  And I watched my mother shrink, actually becoming smaller, frailer, afraid.  The paint strokes for that were broad and sweeping, dark and volatile, grays of depression, the ugly red of anger, all expressions of grief.  It covered me.  It covered all of us.

I am not who I used to be.  No longer am I that crazy, cut-up with a love for unusual shoes, dancing (even though I couldn’t, not really), that spur of the moment sort of person.  Nowadays, sure, I still joke around a little, but I’m more serious, and maybe I need the fashion police because I tend to wear flip flops (year round) and, haven’t seen a nightclub in almost twenty years, because I like being at home.  Some would call this getting old.  Maybe that’s it, but I prefer to just see it as who I am now.

The other day while I was running, the term “landscape of life,” came to me.  It stemmed from the thought we humans are a lot like wet paint on a canvas.  We shift our emotions, and ourselves in order to conform to pain, happiness, or sadness.  Sometimes we become different versions of the person we used to be, before things happened to us.  Like an artist who creates a mood on canvas by using various colors of paint or by incorporating different textures or a new technique, I think humans are like wet paint too.   Our moods, our persona, is the landscape, meaning we adjust and transform ourselves over time.  Maybe some aspect of our old behaviors are simply wiped away as we move beyond what we’ve experienced

I’d like to believe, and I hope, I can somehow use these life experiences when it comes to character development, or capturing a reaction accurately, turning it into a believable rendering a reader can actually relate to and feel.

the-artist-at-work-anna-bain

Courtesy artistandstudio.tumblr.com

Even though we may have lived it and breathed it, putting emotions into words and onto the page…it still doesn’t come any easier, does it?

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8 Comments

I want a “love” button for this. I am under a cloud–sinking and watching as my dad shrinks like your darling mother. Too much to do, more piled on–and then I find this beautifully descriptive piece in my inbox. Neglected for weeks, I kept wanting to open it up and enjoy the writing of a blogging friend. I needed a touchstone, a little reminder of calmer moments, days when I felt control over the spiral. Hmmm, I’m so glad I waited to unwrap this treasure. Today is the day I needed it. What a gift.
Thanks ❤

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    I have been thinking about you…wondered where you’d gone. I just knew something had happened and changed in your life for you to step away for a bit. I’m happy to see you “here,” and truly appreciate your words.

    I hope that you will soon turn a corner and your dad too. For what it’s worth – my mother IS doing better, more good days now than bad. She just passed the anniversary of the day she married Dad – October 5th. It would have been their 59th. I spent the day with her, and she made it through.

    I hope that you soon find that you and your Dad have also turned a corner…whatever that is, or needs to be. It will get better.

    ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

You’re so right, it really doesn’t get easier. I’ve found the landscape of my memory distorted, recently; a bit of a shock. You do it well, of course.

I like the new page design! Never could resist a wee lizard.

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    The hardest thing for me is to watch a movie for instance, watch the emotions playing out, and if you aren’t relying on dialogue, for example, to convey in a fresh way just what a character’s face shows. Putting something like that into words is so hard.

    Thank you on the design – I was sort of playing around. Getting ready to make another change, so this one will likely go at some point, but for now, it’s a little softer to match my new WIP.

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Great reflection Donna. When I look back I have similar realizations about what has shaped me. I find a whole lot of regret there too. Although things have turned out fine and I’m a much better person than I used to be, I can’t help but feel for those situations and the way some things could’ve been.

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    Thank you!

    Same for me with certain situations, Jennine. Especially when I think of the times where I learned later on how I’d reacted to something put people off, or hurt them. Those are the ones I’d like to change or go back to, and correct or fix somehow. That’s impossible, but I do think about it.

    Unfortunately…usually at 2:00 a.m. when I can’t sleep!

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I’m sitting in the Milan airport in Italy, waiting for our flight back to the grand and great USA. Your words are a wonderful expression of what is so familiar to me, life, changes and adjustments. Anxious to get back to that which I was so anxious to leave.

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    Awww, thank you, 2N’s.

    I can’t wait for you to get “home” either! I’ve missed your voice over at The Reef. There’s a FF today – I”m sure you’ve seen that. Don’t know if you’ll have time to join in…but either way! Welcome home in advance and I hope your trip was wonderful!

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