all I got done

April 6th, 2017

On the street outside the gate, a woman walks a dog. I’ve glimpsed them nearly every day for what must be years. Her dog is old and the woman goes slow, the two now inseparable on the steepest part of the hill.

“It’s a beautiful day,” I say.
“It sure is.”

This is a passage from Paradise in Plain Sight, and as it is with many things I scribble, I don’t arrive at the full impact of my words until long after.

I am writing from a sick bed. I had a colonoscopy last week, a routine one they give you at age 60, and as with the one ten years ago, the trauma of the procedure and the sedative wiped out my immunity, and I quickly picked up the flu that I pray doesn’t progress into pneumonia.

It’s painfully obvious that at my age, I am approaching the steepest part of the path. The time that some of us realize that we have already done it all, with that determination and acceleration that young people produce, barreling through decades of accomplishment and acquisition. But now, in order to keep going, we have to let go. Let go of stuff, which is actually the easy part. Let go of our health, perhaps. Let go of our certainty about things and the reliability of physical strength. Let go of our beliefs about who we are and what we want and need. We really have no choice in the matter.

This is what I am experiencing. My resistance makes it worse. There is no going back. I truly have to see how things go. It doesn’t matter if I like how it goes. Letting go of what isn’t needed is such a relief.

This may be all I “get done” today.


  1. I do hope you will be back on your feet again soon! Your garden needs you!

    I, too, am sorting through the significant changes in my life as a result of simply being age 59. On more and more occasions I find myself letting go of beliefs that might have suited a younger version of me. My self-image has changed because I am more realistic about what is right for me now. The experience of Life is different at 59 than say 29 or 39, and thus, my aspirations are too. I am giving myself permission just to move on.

    Stay strong!

    Comment by Lauren — April 6, 2017 @ 10:11 am

  2. Ugh. What will be, will be. But at 72 I fully understand the need to let go of everything -even those things I don’t want to lose! Life really is an unending series of letting go, isn’t it? Still, I’m sending you my hope for recovery. Namaste…

    Comment by Sharle kinnear — April 6, 2017 @ 11:06 am

  3. Sending my love, a chant and little prayer your way, Maezen.

    Comment by Jane — April 6, 2017 @ 11:27 am

  4. You got plenty done. Thank you for the reminder that resistance is a waste of energy. And, as always, for writing from your day straight into the heart of mine. While you’re recovering, may I recommend Abigail Thomas’s memoir “What Comes Next and How to Like It.” (You will like it!!) Feel better. xo

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — April 6, 2017 @ 11:34 am

  5. You don’t waste any time mincing words, do you Maezen? Thank you for the way you share your thoughts and experiences…I welcome your straight-shot-to-the-heart-arrows. They are always needed. Love, Rivkeh

    Comment by Rivkeh — April 6, 2017 @ 11:56 am

  6. There will be plateaux of peace, even some sunlit uplands, as clouds pass. I know you know this.

    Comment by Dodie from Scotland — April 6, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

  7. Oh Maezen, feel better soon!
    I know only too well the resistance to
    how things are now, with my knees.
    It is not easy to accept.
    Much love to you.

    Comment by Marcea — April 6, 2017 @ 12:25 pm

  8. Oh, Maezen, this is so good. Thank you! It’s exactly what my mother has such a hard time with. I don’t believe the resistance has served her well. It’s an excellent lesson to me as I tumble toward 65. And as I begin making a ten-year-plan for avoiding getting stuck as she did with a property too big for who I want to be and what I want to be doing (or not doing) in my elderhood. And if ten years turns out to be five, I’m good with that. I have no investment in outcomes. I’m saving this one! And yes, feel better.

    Comment by Gretchen Staebler — April 6, 2017 @ 1:57 pm

  9. To paraphrase you from your lovely book: paradise, you’re laying in it. (I was hospitalized for three days last October and when I was allowed to re-cooperate at home, I was go grateful to be able to stare at my own walls hour after hour.)

    Comment by Ann Justice — April 6, 2017 @ 2:51 pm

  10. You are doing very well, writing while healing! I recommend the excellent words of a woman named Karen Maezen Miller. She is a little younger than you but great with words and their rhythms. You may not get these hours and days again so savor what you can from them.

    Comment by Bill — April 6, 2017 @ 3:41 pm

  11. Yes, it is up hill. The same sun warms us all. It is dark, and then it is light. It is hard to live through the dimming, isn’t. May the brightness and warmth of the new day be yours soon.

    Comment by Larry Misiak — April 6, 2017 @ 6:35 pm

  12. Such resonance as these past months I’ve had one health matter after another, my google calendar filled with green to designate health care appointments. Overwhelmed and frightened as in my 60+ years I have been healthy, fit, strong and could rely on that. I take a bit of solace in a slogan I saw recently in Lion’s Roar: “Right now it’s like this,” though the truth of this being the steepest part of the path persists. Love to you and each of us as we walk and rest, resist and surrender.

    Comment by Katharine Weinmann — April 7, 2017 @ 2:51 am

  13. Maezen, thank you for writing the words of my heart.

    Comment by Sarah — April 7, 2017 @ 4:43 am

  14. I hope you feel better soon! Once again you get right to the heart of where my own head is these days. Letting go. Accepting the aging, and the changes that come with it. Letting go of resistance. I see it and I know it, but I haven’t yet figured out how to live it.

    Comment by Shawne — April 7, 2017 @ 5:34 am

  15. I enjoy and gain so much from your writing. Thank you.

    Comment by Mariella — April 7, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

  16. Reading this from bed with a fever. As getting things done goes, I could do worse.

    BTW, I finished Take for a Time Being and Purity. Loved Ozeki’s characters, and Franzen managed to captivate me. Started The Buried Giant tonight but need rest.

    Comment by Kathryn — April 7, 2017 @ 9:26 pm

  17. Thank you always for your words. So helpful to feel not alone. I am hoping you are feeling better very soon. I also recommend “What comes next and how to like it” Be well.

    Comment by lucy — April 8, 2017 @ 1:09 pm

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