Every other Monday for five years, rain or shine, I posted a Jalapenos story. I wrote comedies about dogs and tragedies about people. High or low, I wrote—136 stories in all. Then, at holiday season last year, life overwhelmed our home. My wife’s cancer returned after a decade’s remission and we spent Christmas frightened and vulnerable. This summer, my wife’s mother died and she found that becoming an orphan, at any stage in life, brings desolation. My cataract surgery, from which any improvement would have been celebrated, failed to reveal any new and wondrous sights. Indeed, with the insidious advance of RP, I see less now than then.
My writing has been one victim of the emotional onslaught. It wasn’t the writer’s block where I took up the pen but nothing came of it. Rather, I had no desire to pick up the pen at all. I especially didn’t want to write about blindness or the triumph of the human spirit, for I felt not in the least triumphant.
I coped by regressing. I stopped reading good books and started binging on the empty calories of sports and Netflix, which entertained but did not nourish. Stress breeds odd behaviors—I quit winding the clocks and gluing that little thing that’s always falling off that bigger thing. I quit untying the knots in my shoelaces. “Does it matter?” became my burning existential question.
I needed a solution but faced the dilemma: Do I think my way into better acts or act my way into better thoughts? With minimal exertion, I picked up a good book and found food for thought. I turned that fuel into my own words and, in doing so, found a therapy that works: write through it. Writing turns out to be my relief, my release from what’s pent up. Maybe it’s my best, maybe it’s my only way to get “through” this—one word at a time.