In fiction we writers create obstacles for our characters because we know it is through conflict they will reveal who they are and what they are made of at their core. In life, the obstacles are often created for us. And it is our choice as to whether or not we surmount them. Obstacles often come in the form of a person we perceive as difficult or a life challenge such as ill health, the death of someone we love, a divorce, a job loss, or for us writers--yet another rejection letter. It's important to remember there are gifts in making the effort to step back, see the problem for what it really is, and start climbing up and over it. The view from the top is often different from the one at the bottom and the gifts received from our efforts to make the climb can be both life changing and life affirming. I often wonder how many people, writers especially, give up just before something wonderful is about to happen.
My daughter and I begin each day with a telephone call (she lives in San Diego, I in southern Oregon) in which we take turns reading aloud a daily reflection by Mark Nepo in his work entitled, The Book of Awakening. The pieces are brief and followed by a short meditation. I was especially moved this week by one of his entries. When The Path is Blocked, Back Up and See More of the Way. Our reading prompted me to stop and think about the way I sometimes judge a person or a situation without seeing the whole picture. In these times of political diversion when our country and often our families are divided, it seems especially appropriate to take that step back and realize what really matters most to all of us is love.
All life is finite. We will all die. And when that end comes, we won't be thinking about what we did or didn't accomplish in our lives or what political party or candidate we supported. We will be focused on the people we loved and how well we loved them. My work as a hospice volunteer has made me as certain about this as I am anything: Those final reflections on our joys and regrets will be centered on love and nothing else.
Just as the mountain is clearer from a distance so are the people and obstacles in our lives. We have the choice to view ourselves and others in wholeness. We have the opportunity to see each challenge and each individual in their entirety. We can make the choice to keep climbing rather than give up and walk away. We can choose love over hate and diversion. We can keep our dreams alive, pursue them with every ounce of our being, and still choose the path of love. The path that matters most.
Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four
brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the
University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program. Susan has been writing
most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the
Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-
line Contest where she received a thousand dollar prize. Susan won the National
Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and one of her
poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her novel, A Bend In The Willow, is scheduled for release by Tirgearr Publishing in January, 2017.
Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings.
Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, and more fictional characters than one person could count.