Wednesday, January 21, 2009

About ART's Title

I love titles. They come to me all the time, often without a project attached.

When I thought of the title "accidental rabbit trails," years ago, I was tickled. And not quite sure what it meant. Rabbit trails by definition are accidental, aren't they? So an accidental rabbit trail - well, maybe that is a more deliberate route, in spite of erratic intention. The intentional rabbit creates a mess of footprints, zigzagging from baby point to baby point. The accidental rabbit, who fails to make purposeful zigzags due to the now-accidental nature of the trail - well, that must be poetry in motion, in spite of the rabbit's very-best intentions.

I tried explaining this to my younger sister once, way back when, with a lot half-sentences in between (saying I loved the title but didn't know when I might use it, or how). She listened intently and then made her assessment. "Sounds like your life," she said.

Oh. So it does. Maybe that's why I love the title so much.

Here is what I think she meant.

Before I wrote the baseball novel, I spent about two years following a pull on my heart to do what I ended up calling "spiritual archaeology" - helping myself, and then gradually others, explore the ancestry of something and looking for where the wound may be, where the ancestral voice may have been silenced. By the time I found out about this Spokane Indians team - nine men died in a bus crash in 1946 - they died as a team - I couldn't not write about them, and a novel was born. . . . . .

Before I represented victims of sex abuse against the Spokane Catholic Diocese, I spent a couple years following a pull on my heart to be a support system to the local SNAP group (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), ultimately writing a play called A Man Of Sacred Heart, about an exorcist, all the while rejecting offers from other lawyers to represent different people, saying I didn't want to wear too many hats. By the time my half-dozen cases came to me - they needed representation fast, with a lawyer who knew the issues - it was right. In the end, I think I helped my clients. I also freed myself up financially a little (not forever, but for now). Had I not followed the pull on my heart, I never would have ended up there. .... ... . . ..

And before I volunteered for the Obama campaign in 2008 - well, it was just like the other two trails. I had a completely different plan for 2008. It was 2008 when I was going to start my full-out writing effort. But 2008 was also a critical year for the nation. I already knew (had known since his DNC speech in 2004) that we needed Barack Obama as our president. It was his words. It was his process. And then it was all his words, as I started reading them whenever I could. I told people we needed him. They invariably said, "Who?" I never wavered. Suddenly it was January, 2008, I was in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, I saw a campaign office sign, and I felt compelled to volunteer. Then there I was, turning 47 years old, never involved in a campaign before, all obsessed, going state to state, volunteering. Halfway through the year, someone that I met in North Carolina said to me, "You should write a book about your experiences." I laughed and then thought, hey - I should write a book about my experiences. This has not come to pass, though I think it would be a really good book. Still, I can't really care about that too much, for what I really, really wanted has already happened. President Obama, is what we call him now. No one asks "who" anymore.

So now, it's time. There is nothing in my way. All before me is an open path. A new rabbit trail. Deliberately accidental (accidentally deliberate). Time to make this happen. All out.

There were other titles I considered for this blog. A Time To Write, for instance (or variations thereof), recalling Ecclesiastes' "there is a time for everything under the sun...." It is a biblical passage that my mother used to recite to me often to help quell my impatience. (I was my parents' third child in four years, always a step behind my older brother and sister, always trying to catch up.) But I tossed that title. It felt passive, not active. Besides, I couldn't remember it. And Accidental Rabbit Trails - that's more about all things. Its acronym is ART. And, as my sister says, it describes my life. ART.


Anonymous said...

Your comments reminded me that you had a beagle as a pet when you were growing up who frequently follow rabbit trails, baying while she tracked the rabbit who made the trails.

Beth Bollinger said...

Named Daisy.... what a sweet dog she was... thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I got mentioned in a Blog! I remember the conversation...Becky (younger sister)

Anonymous said...

I got mentioned too!
The Mom