The Stuff in Between

A work in progress
A work in progress

I will tell you my stories.

Life leaves a mark.

We do silly things, and silly things are done to us. We suffer. We might vent for a while, but we eventually gather our pain back into ourselves and move on. But if we pause and review dark stories, we can see them in the light. Maybe sometimes we can laugh. I hope so. I think anything else – lessons, growth, wisdom – is extra. But sometimes we manage to soar in those moments between falling and rising again from the ashes.

Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  That’s pretty straight forward, right? Setting, turning point, rising action, climax, denouément.  Simple.  Cliché.

It seems that my stories miss that “middle” part. Lately, it has been as if life had become a series of “beginnings” with a blurry rush leading – bang! – into a ragged, smoking fringe of loose ends that were decidedly not tied up.

A phoenix rises spectacularly from the debris of its old life.  And then it goes, where?  All we imagine about a phoenix is its rise and its fall.  This creature even begins with the end – Fire.  Ashes.  Resurrection.  Then what?  Fire again.  Ashes.  Resurrection, again.

I didn’t think about the phoenix this way when I started my phoenix tattoo. Now, years later, it remains unfinished. The tail is beautifully coloured in jewel tones. The rest of the bird is no more than a drawing, a promise.

My youngest thought a highlighter might help.

I see my muse in a different light. It doesn’t bother me that it’s not finished. In fact, I may choose not to finish it. That’s part of my story, but I’ll tell you later.

The halting, sporadic creation of my tattoo parallels a series of “beginnings” I have declared in the last few years since my separation in April 2012 from a twelve-year marriage.  Declared!  My stories have begun, and, well, ended.  They fizzled out.  They seem to have suffered death by lack of turning point and rising action.

That can’t be right.  There must be a “middle” part.  During the relentless, nauseating spring of my bungee-jump life, it doesn’t seem likely.  But it must be there.  It must because I still believe that there is a process, or meaning to all of this.  There must be some moment when my feet touch the ground, briefly.  Maybe there is some glorious moment when I notice I’m soaring – absorbing the wonderful impossibility of flight?  Maybe that’s what the phoenix does before its fiery death.  Maybe it just soars.

That could be the middle part.

I want to blog the beginnings and the fiery crashes of my life.  I want to notice those moments when I might be soaring.  Yes.  I’ll begin with that.

2 thoughts on “The Stuff in Between”

  1. Love the idea of the phoenix’s middle part. (Loved “Fish called Wanda”, too). Same problem I have when people ask if I’m going to write a sequel to “The Year of Living Doggedly”…happy middles are not the basis of riveting literature. Though they are of a good life.


    1. Alas. I recently edited out the Fish Called Wanda bit. I’m rethinking this blog. I guess I’m in one of those middle parts currently. Or maybe I’m in that split second of nothingness between the end and the beginning. Only the telling will tell.


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