if i am indeed a one-note author, hear me sing my song of gratitude

This morning, I’ve been revisiting and releasing once and for all a brief interaction I had with a NYC literary agent back around 2002. It wasn’t a cold call; I had been referred by the third editor I had been shuffled to after my publisher went through one, two, oh, let’s say three mergers/buyouts that pushed me increasingly down and away from the individuals who had initially connected with my material.

As she requested, I sent the agent a package with my published book and a proposal or two.  (Oh, good! The memory dissolves as we speak.)

“You’re kind of a one-note author, aren’t you?” the agent snidely asked. (I may have forgotten the exact wording. Use your imagination.)

“Well, actually, I thought I was creating a cohesive body of work,” I responded. (I may have forgotten the exact wording. Use your imagination.)

After a pause (probably while I sucked up a damburst of tears), I pulled out something akin to, “Well, if (best-selling and famous human potential author) and (best-selling and famous spiritual/personal transformation author) are one-note authors, then yes, I guess I am.”

“Do you have anything else?” asked agent.

So I sent her the very different manuscript. The deeper, richer, more personal manuscript. Her feedback was succinct, uncluttered.

“Oh, I could never represent that. It’s far too different than anything else you’ve done…”

To that agent (whose name I have long forgotten) and to others whose names I will not here divulge,  thanks for the myriad opportunities to get clear and real about who I am and who I most definitely, am not. This spear no longer lodges in my creative heart.

Herewith, an encore presentation of Prayer for Radical Gratitude. One note in a symphony that I will not quell.

Prayer, by Arthur Roy Mitchell (c.1889-1977), A.R. Mitchell Museum, Colorado

thank you for every morsel bittersweet
for every fleeting foray into unimaginable bliss
every lifetime of incalculable pain
for the searing darkness and the blinding light —
thank you

for your rabid inability to create your own boundaries
giving me a reason to establish my ramparts soundly
and master the raising and lowering of my own castle gates —
thank you

for triggering my insecurities with your comings and goings
dragging your nails over toughened scar tissue
busting open wounds that I smugly believed were
once and for all time healed and whole —
thank you for giving me no choice
but to redress and heal anew

in exasperating fashion you loved when i was barely lovable
remained close by when i begged you to disappear
evaporated into the ethers at the very times i wanted simply
to stroke the skin round your weary countenance,
hoisted me onto the meat hook and left me in the netherworld
for days (nay, months!) on end
and for this most of all,
i thank you

you ignored my pleas to show up as i wanted
refused to succumb to the machinations of a restless and uprooted mind
imperceptibly inched along the road to a soul revealed,
pushed back when fear and unworthiness sought desperately to push you away
trampled my tidy, evanescent order into a liminal chaos
invited me to stew in my own juices until they rendered savory and sweet
(oh, did i remember to thank you?)

when i was certain that the elusive butterfly called love had left the room
you proved me wrong and i thank you
when i was steeped in weighty self-reflection and nagging indecision
you forced me none too gently toward an unchanging truth
gave me space to wallow and wonder (damn you!)
skipped merrily on your way without a glance in your rearview mirror
and while i despised your every stroke of bold absence,
i forgot, perhaps, to thank you

for the untold gifts you offered
(though i wanted something more!)

thank you
for the all-too-rare appearance of tender footprints in the snow
the sparse moments peeking out from beneath a pall of igneous complication,
for not forsaking for the sake of contrivance and a measured peace
and for showing up at my doorstep every time i surrendered my tumescent heart
to the whim of a ridiculously ironic god –
thank you

for this and for that
for tears of laughter and lamentation
for your utterly excruciating tirades of silence
and leaps into the abyss of unbound emotion,
for all that has died to the past and poises at the edge of the now —
while you still listen and wait and want and more
here i am, eyes wide open
remembering
to thank you

5 comments

  1. tekia

    It is in the face of advarsity (whether being run over, push down or being held back) that we find out who we are and who we are not even if it stings at the time. The moment of truth appears in that moment when we realize who we really are. In the end, it is worth it when we still stand triumphant. I enjoyed reading this piece! Great piece!

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  2. divine….depth comes with seeing with both the eyes….one success…other
    failure….wellness of soul is this depth….music of silence….

    when I was climbing the stairs of success god was behind as spirit …..the my foot prints were there…..forgot to thank….God.
    when I failed and coming down….did not see foot prints….in tears I was wondering….why…God replies….you are in my lap…..now back to ground reality…..that day ….made my breath ….prayer and thanks to God.

    love all…

    Like

  3. thea

    Rachel, your poems are powerful. Allow me to tell you just how powerful.

    This one resonated with me immediately. I knew it had something I needed: the wherewithal to be grateful for all the ways in which both pleasant and unsettling encounters force me to dig deeper. It’s what I have wanted so intensely to be able to say.. to many people.. to the One, ultimately.. for many years; and I’d tried so hard for so long to see it this way. So I read it aloud once – as much as I could get through – and several times thereafter silently.

    Then, the other day, someone scored a direct hit on me; and before I knew it, a “Thank you!” popped out.

    I won’t minimize the impact of long practice, but it was your words which catalyzed the process’s completion and later made me aware that my persistence at being grateful for everything that came my way had made it work its way in so deep and so pervasively that all it took was another incident to make it break the surface.

    So thank you for this as well, and my thanks to the One who placed you here.

    (By the way, I’m hardly angelic; I merely – and only *sometimes* – recognize an angel when I’m privileged enough to meet one.. :-))

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  4. Your comment floors me, thea. Oh, wait, actually it lifts me to the heights! Yes, these words hold great power; they are activators for those who have keen sight and the spirit ears with which to hear. I am so thrilled you found your way here. PS: There are many earthangels among us at this time. Perhaps closer to you (!) than you can scarce imagine?? The world needs you now.

    Like

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