Pen Pal Project
August 24, 2015
Time is indeed flying by. The evenings are getting cooler, I’m ordering school uniforms and lunches and registering for fall programs, and my book deadline is getting closer week by week. What a summer, though! Such long stretches of glorious weather. We’ve been lucky.
You asked if I was motivated to write The Hole in the Middle by an anxiety about the passage of time. In short, yes, I was. I had a disconcerting sense, as my 40th birthday approached, that I was spending my precious time on the wrong things, professionally speaking. I was in a job that was very senior and challenging, but my work was largely invisible. My role was to contribute to the individual legacy of my boss, and to the overall reputation of my institutional employer.
I began to feel that I was hiding in some way, and was in danger of never realizing my full potential. And I remembered that I had always wanted to write a book. And I asked myself if I still intended to keep that promise to myself, and if so, when.
Five years later, my life is transformed. I’m a professional writer with a bestselling book that will come out in the US in January. I’m halfway through the writing of my second novel. I’m not married anymore. I’ve moved. I’ve lost friends. I’ve gained friends. I have a pen pal. My boys are old enough to be proud that their mother wrote a book.
As for my favourite quote about the passage of time, I give you Robert Frost:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Much has been written about this deceptively simple poem, but my own interpretation is that a life fully realized – fully lived – includes loss, change, and grief. And perhaps, understanding that reality, we can embrace change with less fear and less regret?
Read Reva’s last letter here.
Follow the Pen Pal Project here.