DIRT, & HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE IT
August 30, 2012

If you’re a writer and your house is too clean, something is wrong. – novelist and playwright, Jim Grimsley

“What you’ve done is amazing!” Bebe says, who has phoned after looking at my web site. I know what she means – the books, magazine articles and reviews I’ve published, the countless manuscripts I’ve read and critiqued and the 31 years I’ve led Zona Rosa (missing only one group due to illness). Implied in her comment is how? And as I hang up after giving her the details on visiting our Savannah Zona Rosa group, the answer springs to mind: dirt! I suddenly realize that I’ve been able to do it all because of dirt, and my ability to ignore it. This morning, as I walked through the hall I’d let my finger trail through the thick dust on the manual typewriter on which I wrote my first two books, and which I keep enshrined there on a table. But did I stop to clean it? No. Instead, I thumb tacked a little note in my brain to possibly dust it – someday. But I went on with my notebooks to the front porch, where I sat down to work. I had long since learned to compartmentalize and focus, and I also believed, as some smart woman wrote long ago, “Dirt is only matter out of place.” And I had embraced her attitude learned early on, indeed, as soon as I became enamored of writing, and realized it was my destiny. Had I been thrown decades before when my 9-year-old daughter Darcy announced that Harold – one of our many cats – had shit on the mantle just moments before my poetry group was due to arrive? No. Quickly getting rid of the shit – even if it meant sweeping dust balls under the rugs, permitted me to do, I quickly learned, what was most important to me: write, read books, and talk about reading and writing. Today I’m grateful to dirt for giving me the chance to hone these skills. And as a result, in Zona Rosa, we have two essential credos: Use the F word – Focus, and Use the C word – Compartmentalize. Which leaves to the question: Where do you stand on the choices you make everyday as you live – as poet Mary Oliver put it – your one beautiful life?

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