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"Time is Up" by Ali Cavanaugh

"Time is Up" by Ali Cavanaugh

Time is up.

NaNoWriMo has ended.

December 1st has passed.

We survived.

And this, this is the story of survival.

"Covering Shame" by Ali Cavanaugh

Survival begins much uglier than you might think.

It begins with guilt and shame and a desire to fade into the white and the flurry of fragments — of self and storyline and understanding.

The story is a blurred and spinning motion show.  It is circulating cascades of colors and lights and fragments of faces and pieces of periphery.

The story of survival is substantial, but it is not ordered or ordinary.  It is out of order and spinning spinning spinning spinning.

And so, in the face of our own survival, with the force of bed spins weighted at our temples, we begin here: We failed the challenge.  We did not produce 50,000 words in 30 days.

"A Perfect Sway" by Ali Cavanaugh

“A Perfect Sway” by Ali Cavanaugh

We plunged into the starkly cold early winter waters, foraged in the dark depths with our toes, and fought against the current.  Yet we could not hold our breath until the end.  We bubbled to the surface just shy of ourselves, just short of discovering our inner underwater worlds waiting to be exposed, written and read.  We nearly made it and yet we did not.  There are thousands of reasons why we did not make it.  Which would you like to read?  Which would you believe?  Which reason suffices power and force enough to yank us up from submersion in our inner selves just as we are about to discover a new lifeform and bring it to the surface for questioning?

Well it begins here: somehow we lost momentum, our tethers tensed up and flung us away, and our surface selves beckoned our immediate attention.  For me, my dear car was totaled and I was called to a different reckless adventure in search of new mobility.  For Ms. Bernstein, graduate school and cold weather and the indescribable and unexpected arrival of foreignness in another country pulled her outward of her attempt.

And although the story of our survival begins there, it does not end there.  For, though we did not meet our mark, though we did not produce our 50,000 words, though we did not amass a new lifeform — we did not fail.

Failure does not suffice.

It does not suffice our survival — our bravery, our attempt, our experiences.

"I See Your Heart" by Ali Cavanaugh

"I See Your Heart" by Ali Cavanaugh

“It’s not what you thought when you first began it / It’s not going to stop until you wise up / It’s not going to stop so just give up”

We nearly made it, but we did not fail.  I do not call FAIL.  Not just yet.

Although we did not surface with an undiscovered underwater lifeform in arms, we do not defy its existence.  We have circumstantial proof only, but we have enough not to deny the truth of possibility.

Our NaNo novels are non-mathematical postulates, non-logical axioms.  They are truths waiting to be proven.  Words waiting to be counted.  Virtual pages waiting to be given tangible life in ink.  Feral children waiting to be given homes and parents and structures and culture.

We have characters who, alternately, have stories and lives and words and creatures for whom they are responsible.  We have towns that do and do not exist, alternately — for they exist in our storytelling and perhaps even in actual space.  We have much to prove.  We have much yet to do.

I do not call FAIL.  Not for us.

The Internet Meme

FAIL: The Internet Meme

Even if failure is the best word we have available in our present, shared lexicon — failure itself is a story.  In fact, it is an internet meme.  It is a phenomenon of virtual culture.  It is globalized.  It circulates the global in intangible form at unimaginably rapid speeds.  It is shared by thousands and thousands of people, strangers to one another, each day (on different days in the world and in the world’s time).  Even in this photograph, fail is called for an ironic and probably, in all likelihood, unintentional shelving order for a bookstore in NYC (that same bookstore that gave away the free postcards that my Bernstein used to mail me delicious bites when she was an undergraduate student first living in the great wide city).  But even this failure is not failure.  Failure does not suffice this photographed shelf.  Failure does not suffice its irony and subtextual meaning.  Failure does not suffice metaphor.

Our NaNos exist betwixt — betwixt the truth and fail — betwixt success and failure — betwixt sexuality and relationships.

We have not failed.  We have only just begun.  And we shall not let go.

"I hope you never leave my arms" Ali Cavanaugh

"I hope you never leave my arms" Ali Cavanaugh

This entry has made generous use of Ali Cavanaugh’s watercolor frescos.  Please visit her personal blog to preview more of her work, to support her efforts,
and to read more about her biography and aesthetic.  As printed on her website, “[Cavanaugh] is fascinated by the dichotomy of the seen and unseen in the human condition…
body and soul…Cavanaugh’s art brings to light the complexity within contemplation.  Her signature poetic titles are part of this engaging discourse.”
Her frescos have been used in this entry to evoke the inner experience of survival and its complexity (shame and happiness and selfishness and selflessness and inner exploration).
Please visit: Ali Cavanaugh

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