|Dancing Through Life|
My own college days of existential angst were unsatisfyingly brief. I had barely sobered up from celebrating my liberation from my father when I found myself married with a son of my own. I chose what I wanted to do--practice law--but not really. I didn’t want to be a doctor, like my father, and in a family of doctors, lawyers, preachers and academics, the law seemed a respectable alternative. I was semi-idealistic at first. I refused to represent air polluters.
Soon enough, though, I fell in with a fast crowd of finance and merger lawyers and got hooked on Ferragamo ties and Ritz Carlton suites. My group of fighter pilots flew cover sorties for investment bankers and went to closing dinners in silk flying scarves and bragged about our kills. It was fun and exciting, but one day, like that wistful lover Don Henley sings about, I began to wonder if it wasn’t all just wasted time.
When I turned to writing, one of my practical friends said: Mac, many are called, but few are chosen. Maybe I should have listened.
All my fiction seems to be father-son stories. I think what’s happening is I am writing the same story over and over again until I get it right. Meanwhile, out of necessity, I’ve come to love the process of writing, the way it makes me think about who and how we are, the quiet place it makes for me.
At that dinner with the friends from the alternate universe, after a couple of glasses of wine (that sweet lubricant of epiphanies), I said I thought the most important thing any of us can do in life is make a difference. Not everyone has to develop dwarf wheat to feed the world. It is enough to write computer code that makes life easier for some or work on education programs for children in need, as my friends do. It is more than enough to write stories, as Meg does, that let women see they have one another’s backs in the struggle to find their places in a world that is slowly opening up to them but remains unwelcoming and even hostile in some quarters.
For myself I harbor the hope, renewed daily, that I will write a story that helps a father see that he is not alone in his self-doubt, a son understand that sometimes the only thing you can do is love and hate your father at the same time. If I can do that, I think I will feel I have not wasted time.