You set out on an unmarked road to write: Breakthrough Tip for now

You don’t begin. You begin and stop. You don’t resume. You believe that without directions, you are lost.

Writing is hard work. If you’re lucky, you remember when writing seemed to pour through you. You were a conduit. You didn’t need to think, and if you did think, the writing seemed to go flat. Now, there is a deadly disease everywhere. Even a routine shopping trip requires thought. And, your time on the internet muffles your body’s senses. Yes, I am writing here about myself on a late May afternoon in 2021.

A week ago, I saw this hand lettered sign. Normality is a paved road – comfortable but no flowers grow. Vincent Van Gogh. I took a photo of the sign and my shadow – and I felt grief. For twenty-eight years – especially when the writing wasn’t coming through – I walked an unmarked and washboarded dirt road near where I lived. Most of the time, I saw no-one. Some of the time, I saw elk or deer or a coyote. I felt more fully alive than I ever had.

Now, the road is half-paved. I know the day is coming when it will be all paved. Now, off road vehicles tear down the road at all hours. The wildflowers alongside the road are covered in dust. I haven’t seen any wildlife since the ORV occupation began. And at twilight, the once sweet unbroken gloom is pierced by the security lights of the new mansions built in the once serene forest. I feel less than a shadow. I am a woman exiled by solastalgia; made a stranger from her home – and herself by voracious change*.

*Where the pain of nostalgia arises from moving away, the pain of solastalgia tends to be irreversible. —Underland, by Robert MacFarlane

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