I have just returned from two weeks of divine restoration on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, which included but was not restricted to, languid morning yoga practice, guided on-the-spot writing, a salt water pool, an endless unsullied beach, the occasional margarita, delicious meals, visits from Morpho butterflies, hummingbirds and Toucans, and one two-day meltdown.
Everything was going fine until I checked my email somewhere into the second week. (Interesting to note: my cell phone died the day after we arrived, and our writing facilitator’s computer ceased to function.) My university transcript could not be located said the email, and suddenly the ground went out from under me.
Filling out the Ontario Colleges application had been an interesting undertaking, since in the world of academic education, I have completed only grade eleven. As a mature student, I took a Creative Writing course at the Glendon campus of York University. But suddenly, I couldn’t recall ever receiving a mark or a credit or any indication that I’d taken this course. But it was only one course, not the required BA for this post graduate Creative Writing course for which I’d applied to Humber . With the understanding that Humber does, on occasion, make exceptions I’d submitted a detailed account of my writing life with confidence.
Ah, how easily confidence can be shattered!
Even as I sent off letters to the director, the registrar and so on, reminding them of my credentials, I couldn’t help but doubt that what I had done or could do would be enough. Sue continued to assure me that I had more than what it takes, that my Osho Multiversity certificates in the healing arts were proof enough, that the fact I’d been published, won a contest, received grants, served as president for a writing organization, took two years of A Novel Approach – these were all more than enough. But I have no letters after my name. I did it “my way”, and that might not be good enough.
I don’t remember actually saying this, but my mother claimed that as a young woman I remarked that one never says, “Gosh, I’m glad I worried about that.” I tried to catch hold of that bit of wisdom as I sipped my lemon water and gazed out at the Birds of Paradise and hot pink wild ginger flowers nestled into the palm and mango trees, and listened to the heartbeat surf underscoring the cicadas’ song. But I’d been triggered, so even with reassurances from my writing teacher, Sue Reynolds, and emotional support and suggestions from Theresa Dekker, I kind of fell apart.
They want letters after my name that I don’t possess. Maybe I don’t have what it takes. Am I being judged or tested? Or is there simply a surprise awaiting? It always turns out well for me. I bounce down life’s cow paths as if there is no shit underfoot. I turn my want off like a tap. Don’t worry, the friend smiles, the Facebook comment assures, something better awaits.
I spread out my hands as if gold pours from them. I display my dancing son, ribbons flashing red and black, as if his lithe young body still somersaults at the end of a cord. I pose with my thousand words as if it were the Pulitzer, or at very least, the Giller.
Sadness comes today on bare feet that fold into one another, rubbing sand first on to the top of one then the other. I will take sadness to the ocean, to the jungle, back to bed. But whenever it wants to go home, I won’t catch its hem and ask it to stay.
Waves drop, flatten and get sucked back out into the ocean. They just do – it’s their nature. And so, the dread and sadness passed. I was able to return to where I actually was – in a bit of paradise with some truly wondrous friends and writers.
Then I came home to find a letter of acceptance from Humber in my mailbox. A little external validation doesn’t hurt.