February 2023: the impossible

My hypervigilant brain has been wrassling with revision of my speculative-fiction manuscript. In an effort to get it to relax its anxious judge-y grip, today I dipped my writer’s craft toes into Geraldine Woods’ marvelous book, 25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way. I jumped to the “Impossible” sentences section, where the “writer’s exercise” invited me to brainstorm impossible events, eg what could happen on February 30th. One example was, “have a good conversation with [relative].”

My hypervigilant brain sprung into action: but [relative] has their own experience of the conversation! Who’s to say what’s good or bad? Why categorize any living being as “impossible” to have a good interaction with?

Then my hypervigilant brain sprung onto a white steed of smug self-righteousness: I have done enough self-reflection, and practiced enough nonviolent communication, and meditated enough years to know that good/bad is an unhelpful dichotomy, a limited and constricting way to approach Life. I’m beyond such simplistic thinking! (I’ll give you a moment to get a tissue and wipe the tears of laughter off your face.)

Next, my hypervigilant brain slid sideways off its saddle of self-righteousness: there are [some people] that I’d cross the street to avoid. That I absolutely do not believe I can have a “good” conversation with.

And thus my hypervigilant brain finally came up with what seems impossible to me: inviting [some people] to my house for a meal. Preparing it with as much kindness as I do for my dearest friends. Laying in a bottle of good wine, and after-dinner port, and excellent chocolate. Feeling joy when they arrived, and bittersweet regret when the evening ended.

Just imagining this impossible scenario raised my heart rate a bit, tightened my stomach. But then questions bubbled up: how the heck are [some people] doing since the death of their parents? How is that wild child of theirs as a teenager? Do they still drink wine?

Imagining the impossible and sitting through the subsequent discomfort shifted [some people] to “my former friends.” Oh. Oh!

As my now-relaxed hypervigilant brain took a breath and dozed off for a wee nap, she mumbled, that’s a good way to make an effective piece of writing: imagine the impossible.

May it be so.

One response to “February 2023: the impossible

  1. Ouch. That hit a nerve. Yes, hyper-vigilant brains need a vaca! Love your writing, Leslie. Happily, I live by the words of one of my heroes Dennis Lehane: “I live in the gray world.” It’s not always comfortable when my warrior side comes out, but for overall health, it helps to be neither one nor the other, but at peace with the possibilities. Big hug, sistah!

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