This is a photo of my new writing space. It was previously a sprawling computer workstation area, surrounded by scanners and an inkjet printer, but we consolidated our two desktop PC’s into one unit on the other side of our office, leaving me this space to write. I wanted a place at home where I could sit, shut the door if necessary, and concentrate on writing for as long as I remained productive.
Previously I did most of my writing while sitting in Starbucks, as part of my daily walk. I write well in coffee shops, but the Starbucks is busy and I’m uncomfortable staying for long periods of time, taking a table from the other patrons. So my writing has been done in bursts. And because it’s also a gathering place for many of my photographer friends, I often end up socializing rather than writing.
So this marks a new start, and it’s appropriately symbolic because today (April 22) is the first anniversary of my open-heart surgery. I’ve spent the past year recovering from a double-bypass operation. Only recently have I felt I was returning to normal. It’s been an up-and-down recovery and a little worrisome because the cardiologists and the literature suggest that most people feel back to normal within six months. I didn’t.
This in turn led to depression, which I’m also dealing with. My family doctor reassured me that many of his patients take a year or more to recover from the surgery, but despite understanding that at a rational level, I worried that I might never get well again.
During the past year I’d slipped into the habit of sleeping in late, and casually getting active in the morning, often not dressed and ready for a walk until after noon. In part I had little control over this, and sleep was highly important. Lately, though, I’ve begun some military-like discipline, getting up if I wake early — anywhere between 5 and 6:30 — getting dressed immediately and going for a power walk before breakfast. No stopping at Starbucks, though I carry a camera with me and occasionally stop to take a shot.
The result, combined with the natural healing of my body, is that I’m feeling better and more energetic through the rest of the day. This in turn should help with the writing.
I’ve not been able to shake the depression, but I have many very good days to every bad one, and I’m working with a psychiatrist to help me evaluate my condition and adjust my antidepressant medications when I require changes in dosages. Depression is a terrible disease — one I’ve come to understand first hand and I’m now very empathetic to anyone who is afflicted. Depression is a common condition, I’m told, among cardio patients.
But that aside, I feel I’m having a fresh start in life as I near my 64th birthday. You think a lot on death when you’ve been through major coronary issues, and one of the things that does is help you achieve perspective on what is important in your life.
Family and friends top the list, of course, but I also value creative work more highly than ever. My writing has taken a creative turn. I’m reaching beyond technology writing into creative nonfiction and even some fiction and poetry. I don’t know where this will take me, and I don’t have a particular goal other than to follow the desire to write creatively and to photograph creatively.
Hence the new writing space is symbolic of a fresh start, and a new adventure in life. It’s never too late to start fresh. Somewhere in each of us, I truly believe, are muses willing to work with us, if we learn to listen to them. Call it subconscious or unconscious, or call it tapping into special areas of the brain, or even something new-agey if that’s your schtick — what it’s called matters little, as long as we listen.
I figure a good place to start is right here, at a simple desk, with a southern exposure. Pen and paper ready. Netbook on standby. Dictionaries at the side. The Muses whispering. Everything set to take those important steps into the world of imagination.