Finding balance in the second half of life

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Happy, Interesting, or Both?

In Fulfillment on December 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

From Penelope Trunk's Brazeen Careerist

How great is this photo? It’s from Penelope Trunk, who eventually in her post gets around to talking about how you can’t have a life that’s both interesting and happy. You have to choose. Or, if you don’t have the choice (each of us is born with a happiness “set point” that accounts for about 50% of our happiness level), to accept the hand you’re dealt and play it as best you can. As a writer, I’ve thought about this a lot because I am mostly happy, which seems to put me at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to material. My own assessment of my life is that it’s been interesting, but not fascinating. There must be a middle ground–even if it is no wider than a barbed wire fence. Happily (See? Happy!), I thought of someone who has a life that’s both happy and fascinating, at least by all appearances: Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman.

Christine MacLean

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

In Family, Fulfillment on November 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm

When my dad retired from his position as elementary school principal, his staff gave him a video camera. It was 1987, and I was pregnant with my first son, Dylan, who was about to be the most documented child on the planet. I have stacks of VHS tapes showing an increasingly impatient sweet-faced boy being “interviewed” by his grandfather. What does he think of his new baby brother? What, in his opinion, is the real meaning of Christmas? What is he especially grateful for on this Thanksgiving Day?

A lot of my dad’s leading questions are true groaners, and I remember some family gatherings where I thought about hiding the camera bag somewhere before he could pull out the instrument of torture.  But I’m glad to have those tapes, and Dylan and his brothers are, too. The four of us can watch them for hours.

So when I read the mixed reviews of Doug Block’s new documentary “The Kids Grow Up” — described by one critic as a “disconcerting chronicle of his daughter’s life” and by another as a moving “essay on the passage of time and the mysterious connections between parents and children” — it was with my own mixed feelings.

As a writer who hasn’t been shy about sharing scenes from her own children’s lives, I admit I’ve worried about the ethics and the effects of “using” my defenseless boys as “material.” But I have also, like Doug Block, like my father, experienced the obsessive need to explore the intersection between my family members’ stories and my own, as a way of understanding my own truth.

–Debra Wierenga