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The True Memoirs of a Sometime Sybarite
Tuesday on "The Good Ship Lollipop"--Memoirs of a sometime Sybarite
I’m having a difficult time writing out on the front deck of the houseboat. I’m used to rising before Bill gets up and writing back in our office where there’s little to distract me other than looking at the sunrise--unless I want to straighten the desk, and I rather write than do that.
Here I stop to watch the play of sunlight on the lake and the ducks that come by to mooch. The water’s hypnotic lap-lap seeps into my mind, and my thoughts dwindle away. Soon other early risers will come out, and I’ll close my laptop. Time with these friends is golden. Also, writing is a solitary process.
The biggest problem is that I’ve been transformed during the past week. I have become a Sybarite, a lover of ease and pleasure. We Sybarites don’t like schedules, deadlines, work and thinking.
My transformation started last week when we attended a Jimmy Buffet concert with some of the house boaters. A Buffet concert is a participatory, sybaritic experience. Both men and women wear coconut bras and grass skirts or Hawaiian shirts and crazy hats. Smoke from the grills of tailgate parties rises above the parking lot. Some vans are ornamented with palm trees. I’ve never seen so many stretch limos in one place. Buffet’s carefree songs were a good prelude to the houseboat cruise.
One of our friends said, "Rose Mary! Is that your laptop I see? Don’t tell me that you’re working on the houseboat!" "I have to write a column." "Couldn’t they just run an old one?" The editors wouldn’t object. For example, I could use the column about our annual summertime visit to Aunt Laura’s Michigantown home for Sunday dinner followed by a pilgrimage to the Old Home Place.
That’s not the point. To me, this isn’t a duty. Since Eric Cox first asked me to write for The Banner nine years ago, I’ve written an essay 52 weeks a year during good times and bad and regardless of vacations, Christmases, illnesses and the deaths of loved ones. Daily writing has become part of the very warp and woof of my being. It is every bit as much of a compulsion as my reading: I need to write, must write, cannot stop writing. A day doesn’t start well for me until I’ve written something.
Jana showed me an article "Inside the Writer’s Mind" in Oprah’s O magazine. O isn’t a typical "women’s" magazine. It is literate and contains interesting articles. A long piece by novelist Walter Mosely shows how to write within a year that book that many of us have within us. Were I an English teacher, I’d certainly get that issue of O.
You absolutely must write even a few words--or edit what you’ve written or jot down ideas-- seven days a week. I know that I’m not a Hemingway, Conroy, Twain or Capote. However, I do try to write to a high standard. I know that Mosely is right when he says that writing is primarily an unconscious activity where the connections, metaphors and experiences that you call up while writing come from a place deep inside you. What you write consciously comes from being connected to your internal being, and you must make that connection every day..
Henry David Thoreau wrote that we should live consciously because life is so precious. My writing and the subconscious process that lies beneath it make me more aware of my existence and help me explore not just the breath of living but, also, the depth of it.
Meanwhile, come with me up to the top deck. I slather myself with coconut-scented, sun-warmed oil. I try to read Harry Potter, but end up lying supine while the boat’s gentle rocking and the sun’s heat tempered by gentle breezes have their way with me and set my mind as free as a little boat to wander an ocean of half-formed thoughts and dreams. Ah! Life just doesn’t get any better than this! Fellow Sybarite Jana said as we prepared to leave, "This is the first time I’ve worn anything but pajamas or a bathing suit since we came on board. Can you beat that?"
Saturday: The bubble has burst, and I’m back in my everyday persona. I don’t suppose that I’d want to be a full-time Sybarite, but it sure was fun while it lasted.
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