Thursday, May 13, 2010

Girl with a Gun

This photo will be featured in a performance of An Optimistic Woman, a short play I wrote. The performance (on 5/21) is part of a month long celebration called “Women’s Work 2010,” sponsored by the Tennessee Women’s Theater Project. When I submitted the play to the contest a few things had not happened in my life.

For one thing, the rains had not come. I found it amazing how the Nashville floods turned everyone’s world upside down and sideways, even if our property escaped damage. Power, internet, and cell services were disrupted. Drinking water became scarce. Friends became desperate for help. It’s rather difficult to say, “Sorry, I have a deadline,” when the call goes out for salvaging what’s left of a life.

But there were deadlines, some unexpected. My line edits for the next book came in. I got a call for a new freelance editorial job. And I’m teaching at the Blue Ridge conference next week, so there were critiques to do and workshops to prepare. In the middle, I have to take the photos for the play and arrange for a rehearsal that’s to take place while I’m out of town.

But there’s a subtle lesson in the photo. Kim had to set aside her training to pose for this. Her training instilled in her one rule: You never point a gun at another human being unless you expect to shoot in defense. In fact, I wanted to shoot this at her range, but she said we wouldn’t be allowed to. She had to set that training aside to help me complete my project.

As writers, as women, as family members, as employees, we are steeped in responsibilities. LAYERED in the training to tackle them. With those responsibilities comes a layer or two of guilt as well . . . heaven forbid we drop the ball on anything.

But sometimes, we have to. Sometimes we have to say, “Yes, I have a lot to do, but right now, I need to go pack up a kitchen filled with sewer water and mud.”

Sometimes our training has to give way to our humanity.

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