It went: "What are you doing the rest of your life? North and south and east and west of your life?"
I don't remember who was singing it in the movie because right away it became Frank Sinatra's voice in my mind singing straight to me: "Dewena, what are you doing the rest of your life?"
I emailed my sisters one of our Sister Letters, telling them about the music and the lines haunting me, challenging me. In turn, I asked them the question, "What are you doing the rest of your life?"
A dialogue opened up. One sister who had left a stressful career of decades wrote back that everyone told her to now do what she loved to do but she told them: "I do not know what I love. I have been too long at the rat race."
Isn't that the most frustrating of all? To finally be given time to do the things you love but you don't know exactly what it is you love to do? She wrote that she thought the song might be a message for her too.
A few days later our other two sisters joined in, one saying she couldn't get the song out of her mind, that it did cause her to reflect on the future.
The other sister jokingly fussed at me: "What are doing the rest of your life? Darn you (only she didn't say darn) for making us think! No, thank you, that was so good and so needed. I am working hard on that."
Somehow I think the first line of that song has stuck with us, focusing us, probably frustrating us too when other pressing personal responsibilities give us absolutely no time to pursue things that we would like to spend our time doing.
It made me determined to find more time to write. I began researching self-publishing as that seemed to be the only way I'd ever get published. For years, scribbling, scribbling, always scribbling. One short story and one magazine article published, then years of writing novels, never daring to submit them after the first rejection, too much fear of trying to promote them if one had been accepted. It was in the writing process that I found joy, not for me the search to publish, the marketing, phone calls, meetings. Rejection.
And yet as I heard Frank Sinatra's voice in my mind over and over, I realized that I wanted something more than just writing my stories. My sisters had suggested that I write a blog but I shied away from the idea because of the tech knowledge required. Still, I was spending chunks of my evenings enjoying my favorite blogs. Could I do it too? I knew if I did it could only be about what I knew--our house here and our life in it and my passion for houses and the stories of people who lived in them.
There is a quote from Diana Vreeland that sums up why I read about houses and the lives of the people who live in them, in books and on blogs. I feel strange quoting the esteemed editor-in-chief of Vogue from 1967-1971--can you imagine the expression on her face if she heard that I was presuming to quote her?--but when I first read what she wrote I said, "Yes, yes, yes!"
"Few things are more fascinating than the opportunity to see how other people live
during their private hours--in rooms they love, gardens they have planted,
among their personal possessions, pursuing their favorite interests,
enjoying their domestic arrangements to fit the pattern of their individual lives."
Isn't that what we bloggers write about, our own and others domestic arrangements? So I dropped "Across the Way" into the big pool of blogs for the sheer joy of it, trying not to care whether a small ripple appears and possibly grows or not. As an amateur I plod ahead writing posts, begging R.H. to take just one more photograph, trying to visit my blog roll friends and others faithfully, leaving applause for them, comforted and inspired by my visits to them, often astounded at the sheer talent out there, rejoicing with their good news and often crying at their sad news.
Sometimes I get a little discouraged when there is so little response to mine. Then I remember how for one year and nine months, after I discovered the world of blogs, I read them daily, loving new discoveries, and yet never daring to follow or comment because that dreaded message would pop up wanting me to open a google account and I had no idea what that was about.
So, to any readers who might be reading this blog and never comment--and I have had two lovely emails from people who told me they were among my "silent" readers--and to those wonderful blogging friends I have made in the last two months, and to my family who check in regularly to see what Mom/Grandma/Mimi/Sister has to say, part of what I will do in 2013 is write on this blog.
I encourage myself with this much appreciated quote from G.K. Chesterton: "A thing worth doing at all is worth doing badly."
I like to think that the song, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman--does their little tune "The Way We Were" sound a tiny bit familiar to you?--gave me the courage to attempt something risky, something different, something that will matter to me and might to someone else. For anyone who has given their valuable time to read through this long post, I would like to challenge you to ponder this question as 2013 is just beginning:
"What are you doing the rest of your life?"
If you feel like writing about it here in a comment I would certainly like to read it, but more importantly, just keep it in your heart. And please don't get mad at me if you can't get Frank Sinatra's voice out of your mind.
[I just tried to do a link here to Old Blue Eyes singing this song on Youtube but it failed. I am so tech challenged.]