Natalie Goldberg Deck: Card #9
I’m working through the Natalie Goldberg deck of writing subjects. Each card in this world-renowned author and zen teacher’s Deck contains a writing topic on one side and a short lesson on the reverse, delivered in Natalie’s honest, heartfelt urgency. “This is my wish for you:” she says. “[T]hat you take these cards, grab the topic on one side and write, write, write . . . Remember no good or bad. Just words on the page.”
I forgot to say no.
No, I don’t want to be out here in the middle of nowhere where the antelope roam. I want to be in L.A. where Epic Records has offered me a future. I was 18 and it was summertime and a man of substance, an interesting, difficult, accomplished, gifted man of substance had said,
“Stay with me,”
and that eclipsed all my own substance, interest, difficulty and accomplishment. Well, it didn’t so much eclipse it as redefine it: If he loves me, I can just copy and paste that into my life, and it will save me the hard work of me loving me.
When my children dropped hints that there was trouble in the house too big to say out loud, I forgot to say, “Tell me. We’ve got all the time in the world.”
I never said to my mother, “Let’s not do anything spectacular today. Let’s not go shopping or have anyone over for lunch or dinner. Let’s just look at the fire in the fireplace.” I never asked about her childhood. I know all her stories by heart — the bits she got to do with her brother in her father’s Vaudeville show, etc. But I never asked her about what life was really like, what she loved, what she hated.
I forgot to say, “Yes” to my son calling from Miami. “Mom, you have to come down and get on the water with me. It’s the most incredible feeling. Can you come, like, tomorrow?” I couldn’t. I mean, technically, I could have, but I’d made commitments and so…
So many yesses I missed.
Yes, I will stop what I’m doing and listen to you.
Yes, I will go outside and walk our precious dog with you.
There are so many words I might have forgotten to say out loud.
Words like Stop,