Back Writing Again

I have deserted my post here for two years and want to get back to writing for and about people who are over 70, under 100, of pretty sound minds and with bodies that keep going back into the shop. Seeing my husband on his journey off the planet for the last 24 months was the focus…that plus dealing with the earthly departures of brother, son and daughter have more than knocked me about and off my line of work, which is writing for you.

As I write this, I am packing to move to a new way of living in a continuing care place where you can dance around the campus as an independent geezerina, but know that assisted living, memory care and even skilled nursing are at hand should you need them. I will be setting up a writing desk there next week and getting back to you.

Here, to start, was something I wrote at the beginning of the Covid lockdown. It is just as true today as it was then.

The Barnacle Theory of Life

Barnacles….marine undesirables, clinging sea-shelled critters. They grab onto and weigh down everything from sea turtles to boats that have to be put into dry dock to scrape off the cluster of heavy shells.  And then there are the barnacled whales. If you don’t already feel sorry for whales, Google whales and barnacles.

Well, imagine humans, but imagine them being weighed down by invisible barnacles….burdensome emotions and regrets. I have this theory that we are born without barnacles, no ponderous experiences and thoughts have yet attached themselves. But as life commences, we get these imaginary weights…the bad things that happen in every life that pull down our spirits, prospects and hope.

Could be bad parents, addictions, mental illness, job disappointments, poverty, bills, divorce and the deaths of friend and family. (We are all orphans by this time of life.) You have your own list of barnacle events, happenings that squeeze the life right out of your spirit and weigh down hope. Maybe take time here to inventory your own barnacles. Everybody’s got them. Writing your truths in a journal is a good way to take stock.

You may think I am off the chart here, but I see this Covid lockdown as a chance to go into dry dock and get your spiritual barnacles scraped off, emerging lighter and more buoyant at the end of these solitary months.

Yeah, easy to say. How do you scrape off a spiritual barnacle in the middle of a pandemic?  Well, gratitude can melt some barnacles. Gratitude is often talked about, occasionally used,  but needs to be practiced on an expert daily level if it is to have an effect on  outlook.

But why should we geezers be grateful? We have lived most of our lives, are falling apart and can no longer even go out to eat pizza, drink beer and stay out flirting until midnight. You’ve got your own list of good things, but at the top of mine is the absolute miracle that in this unimaginably huge universe, in a constellation of stars called the Milky Way, near a so-so star called the Sun, on a blue planet that actually  has water and life, a wiggle of a sperm hit an egg decades ago and that became me. What are the odds of that?

What are the odds of you? So the fact of existence against all odds is certainly something to mull over today. Makes our own little emotional barnacles seem insignificant. Looking at the ocean has the same effect. Best of all, at night, in the ocean, floating on your back, looking at the universe…real remover of any barnacles.

There are other and perhaps easier ways to scrape off the weights of life: Take music. Why do you not have your favorite music on right now? Why don’t I? It’s already in front of me on my computer. It’s on my cable TV, my radio. Get to it girl. Oddly enough, a mix of country music, Beethoven, John Denver and Bach do it for me as does any Dixieland jazz, especially if that jazz has a sax somewhere. Is there anything a saxophone does not make better? Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz can melt barnacles.

And then there are pets. Those eyes that see through you. Well, maybe they just see the possible liver treats coming from you, but, unless they bite, growl or throw up on the couch, they are front line barnacle removers.

As are flowers. If I could not retreat from the hard things in life into my lavender and roses, I would sink beneath the waves…and you know the current waves. They are  named Covid, Politics, Climate, Economy and Loneliness.  Who knew a rambling rose could be a protector against these things?

And, of course, there are friends and family, the other inhabitants of the blue planet. Meetings in the open air, Zooms, phone calls…(those still exist)…emails, texts…everything except carrier pigeons to keep in touch and remember you are part of a big tribe. Also, if you know someone, a so-called friend, a complainer, who has repeatedly weighed down your spirits, a lockdown is a great time to distance. You just can’t meet to go to the movie. Or anywhere.

All the above can lighten the load, but protecting yourself against incoming barnacles is smart too. Maybe we will emerge lighter from lockdown if we avoid the big weights of the media….the constant chatter, the alarming headlines, the lies, the anger,  the always breaking news. The clue is to not let that news break you. Cut down the media input and the barnacles don’t have such a chance to attach.

So that’s my theory….The Barnacle Theory of Life. Does any of it make sense to you? Your comments are welcome.  Thanks for reading. Mel

17 thoughts on “Back Writing Again”

  1. Mel, we have thought of you so often in the past couple of years. What a powerful return to writing this is. The wisdom you are sharing is an inspiration to us, as we too feel a need to shed our barnacles so we can soar into the future that awaits us all. Much love to you!

  2. Welcome back! Delighted you are writing again. Remembering your cookbook and great tv interviews! Carol

    Carol Ann Story


    1. You were my real host during those CBS days. Hope you are well and where are you? I remember being so impressed you were an Academy Awards person and had all those movies to watch. Thank you for those times. I actually love being on national TV…. 6 million watchers…. but am shy about talking to a room full of people. Go figure.
      What are you knitting? Replica of Statue of Liberty? Full size?

      1. Hi! I retired thirteen years ago and David and I and my best friend (a therapist who was living with us) and her 83 year old blind mother and four dogs moved to Raleigh, NC. Along the way we picked up another roommate a lovely gay guy. Raleigh was beautiful, but quite dull so we moved to (Tamarac, FL /Ft Lauderdale. More lively. I swore you I’d never live in Florida, but here we are. Our 83 year old passed away at 93 and then my friend died suddenly in her sleep. So now it’s me, husband David and two pups. For brevity’s sake I’ve left out a lot of details…but it has been an adventure. NO, I do not miss working! Yes, still knitting! Finally entering my first craft show in November! Carol

        Carol Ann Story


    1. It’s the example of people like you…and, not only writer, but also best editor yet.
      Thinking of the bear on the deck…and you…Mel

  3. It is so wonderful to read this, Mel, and to know that you have shed enough barnacles (although yours could have sunk a battleship) to start to write again.  And wonderful to know that you are moving again, to a place where they will feed, nurture, nourish, entertain, and care for you forever.  Moving is hell, but may this one be the one where you finally feel at home. I’ve been in Indiana for the past week, dealing with all the things I deal with here and catching up with the friends I’ve been lucky enough to make in the past few years.  And wondering if I’ll ever write another poem.  One of mine won a big prize this year, but since then I have not written anything at all.  I’m not the kind of person who can say, “I want to write a poem about [name a subject].”  I need an image, a line–and none has forthcome.  I’m not as busy as I used to be, thank God, so that’s not an excuse.  So I wait. And as I do, I think of you, creative juices flowing, starting a new and hopefully more fulfilling (and filling) life. loveann

    1. Ann, I hope you do get to writing again. Maybe we should form a writing task force: write something or no dinner for you.
      Please send me your prize poem privately and thanks for your response. Mel

  4. Love it, the great barnacle theory! Glad u r writing again. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day. We r going out to dinner and a show for the first time tonight in years to see Skip Marley, Bob’s grandson. 😀

    Stephen Hessel
    Cell 415-497-0010

  5. Thank you, Mel. Your words always inspire. Good luck in your new abode. Hope it’s a new adventure that brings new beginnings.

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