“The only discomfort I really experienced was to live in my workshop among discarded limbs and unfinished torsos.”

Vladimir Nabokov, “On a Book Entitled Lolita

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Reason #55 to Keep Living: Making Space in a Crowded Mind

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Although I’m a detailed person when it comes to my schedule, my teaching, and, most importantly, my writing, I have never liked the act of organizing. Making phone calls, memorizing dates, and attending to trivialities puts my mind in a state of foggy uproar.

Unfortunately, if you are familiar with the Canadian health care system (I live in Ontario, and this is the system I am talking about—it could differ from province to province), you will know how agonizingly slow and complicated getting appointments can be. There is the receptionist for the family doc, the receptionist for the surgeon; there are referrals and booking times and addresses and phone numbers. Oh, so many phone numbers. Don’t talk to me anymore about phone numbers… Continue reading

Reason #54 to Keep Living: Grief

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Grief is pain. And it is a reason to keep living.

I know, it seems paradoxical at first. But bear with me. Grief is pain. In fact, grief feels a lot like mental illness, but grief has a source for the emotional pain where mental illness has none. In this way, grief is a little bit of a relief. It’s purposeful. I can see the point behind it. I can feel something intrinsically human in my own pain and the pain of my family.

Also, grief is fantastic in the way that it brings people together. My grandma died this past week, and I have seen more of my extended family in the last five days than I have perhaps in my entire life. Continue reading

Reason #53 to Keep Living: Progress

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Photo taken by WordsFest London staff

This is, and always will be, one of my biggest reasons to keep living.

On Sunday morning, I had the privilege of reading and speaking with four other writers at WordsFest in London, Ontario. This is the kind of event I couldn’t have been part of three or four years ago — partly because of health reasons, and partly because my writing was no where near good enough to be read in front of a room full of people. My writing still needs A LOT of work, but opportunities like this remind me that I am progressing, and that my constant work and practice is getting me somewhere.

As a writer, signs of progress are sometimes few and far between. I will take what I can get, and this one was more than enough. Continue reading

Reason #52 to Keep Living: Routine

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Because I’m a person who believes creativity and spontaneous adventure to be life-giving, it was very eye-opening for me to discover productivity and a certain solace in the schedule I set out for myself during the past few weeks. I had been living half-healthy for a long time, drifting always between exhausting illness and the ability to function.  A routine was nearly out of the question, especially one that took me away from the house for long periods of time.

Then I discovered that I was suffering from low iron and a variety of other minor, but (thankfully!) definable and treatable, maladies. With treatment and time, I was able to follow a routine again, and I realized for maybe the first time in my life the value of repetitive action, of predictability, and of time away from the house. Continue reading

“Such is the World, such Man, such Love. What are we (I ask) but puppets in a show-box? Oh, omnipotent Destiny, pull our strings gently! Dance us mercifully off our miserable little stage!”

— Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

Reason #51 to Keep Living: Birthdays

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I’m sorry this post is a day late: yesterday was my 23rd birthday, and the day was a little too jam-packed to construct a proper blog post. Here is a photo of me about to blow out the candles on my cake. I love cake, so I was pretty happy.

I was also surrounded by family. These are the people who helped me get to my 23rd birthday in the first place. Because for a while I didn’t believe I would make it to my 20th, 21st, or 22nd. Now here I am at my 23rd. I couldn’t feel more accomplished or more surprised at my own perseverance.  Continue reading