Here I go again, starting a post with a pun. Can’t help it. Won’t go ga-ga over it. After all, I was Born This Way.
Hmmm. Guess this post is about self-acceptance. (Or it could be about song lyrics. Or Heidi. That’s it: Heidi.)
I have a friend — let’s call her Heidi, because it isn’t her name. Despite English being her third language, Heidi has everyone I know beat when it comes to an understanding of Literature with a capital “L.”
A few years back, Heidi gave up her family publishing business in Istanbul and flew off to Switzerland to get married. But before that, she was an old friend of an old friend — one of many who came to holiday in our village by the sea.
One evening, lounging on my bar stool, lapping up liquor faster than the waves lapped the shore, I blurted out that all my life I’d written stories. As the stars started spinning (and lounging became far too vertical a challenge), Heidi insisted on reading my writing. I was too drunk to say no. It was dawn before it dawned on me that I’d promised to relinquish my literary legacy… to the most discerning of critics.
The next day, she came to the house and held out her hand. I handed over my babies, and as I watched her saunter back to the seaside to read them, I was mortified. Surely I was about to be humiliated, or at best politely discouraged from ever writing another word — and in front of my husband’s oldest friends.
All day, I practiced hanging my (hungover) head in shame, but didn’t like the look. By late afternoon, I was determined to laugh off Heidi’s criticism with a hearty, self-effacing, “Well, I’m no aspiring author, you know. I’m an artist — and not much one of those either, ha ha! Please do me the honor of drinking this tiny, scalding-hot glass of tea.”
That evening, Heidi climbed the hill in her floppy hat and sunglasses, passed on the tea and spoke the words I’d been dreading:
“You’re not an aspiring author.”
My heart sank, but not too much. I’d been expecting it, after all. But in my desperation to appear unconcerned, I almost missed the second half of her proclamation:
“You’re an unpublished writer.”
When those words sank in, my head started to spin. So there I was, sinking heart, spinning head, clutching the railing of the balcony as Heidi fluttered my pages and said, “May I keep these?”
And the rest… is Mystery.
Now, about that self-acceptance business:
It was Darwin Day yesterday. Time to accept what we are: one glorious product, among billions, of the amazing process of evolution. Opposable thumbs made from stardust — building blocks rearranged ever so slightly, every new generation, that can spell out a recipe, or a novel, or the (cringe!) lyrics to “Lay Lady Lay.”
Dinosaurs live in us, but they never lived with us, not even in the U.S. And despite all the bad grammar and verb tense misuse, we’re a marvel.
Happy (belated) Darwin Day.