My book group read Annie Proulx’s book, “Close Range: Wyoming Stories” this past month. You might know this author better by her short story, included in this book, which was made into a block-buster movie: Brokeback Mountain.
Proulx writing creates imagery that is incredible. You can feel the wind howling through the Wyoming range land. You can see the colors of the dirt, the rocks, the horizon, the angry sky. You can hear the voices of the rough, tough people who live on ranches and in the towns of this land.
What comes through most of all is the sense that time marches on. People come and go from this tough, barren land; their lives small and meaningless, and often devoid of hope, joy or fulfillment. Mothers raise their children to be tough by demeaning them; husbands betray wives; children start out with visions that soon fade into simple survival.
Reading these short stories was emotionally painful at times. I kept looking for a sense of soul; a moment of magic; just a little joy. What I kept finding were stories about lives that barely made an impact in the steady, brutal passage of time.
The experience depresses me. I wonder if my own life sometimes takes on that quality of simple survival. When I go through a typical week, and then a normal weekend, with nothing memorable occurring, does my time and my effort simple evaporate like the early morning mist on the Wyoming range?
Last weekend we visited our oldest daughter at her first “real” home away from ours. It’s an odd experience viewing your child, so recently dependant on you for everything, now standing proudly and independently as an adult.
I determined that our weekend would not just fade away; it would be memorable. We would laugh a lot; we would hike to exhaustion; we would remember this weekend.
I’m a firm believer in creating memorable moments. I’m also a believer in changing the world, even if it is just in my very small sphere of influence.
As a mother, my influence begins with my children. I’ve raised them to be strong, independent women; women who are, all three, focused on finding their own way to change the world. It’s an incredible experience to see the nearly-independent adults that have been the focus of my mothering energies for more that two decades. Some moments I am so proud I could burst; other moments I can see parenting lessons I obviously missed conveying somewhere along the lines.
I’ve thought a lot about Proulx’s writing. It’s powerful; but for me the power has been in forcing me to look at my own life. I’ve determined to be more mindful of the passing of time.
To make this day count.
To create, with my children, memorable moments.
To find – and to start – experiences that are filled with love, laughter and joy.