Of Writing, Biscuits, and Gratitude
May 25, 2017 § 22 Comments
By Lynn G. Carlson
The resident dog at my vet’s office is named Beulah and she is clearly senile. Her black-lab muzzle is grizzled and her eyes are opaque gray.
She stands in the center of the waiting area on unsteady legs and makes eye contact with me, then moves her eyes to a blue ceramic jar on the counter marked Biscuits. Then she looks back at me.
When I look over at the jar, and back at Beulah, it sets her tail to wagging so hard she almost falls over.
Beulah looks at the jar, then at me. Over and over. Nothing breaks the trajectory of her gaze, not even when a german shepherd happens by on his way to the examining room and jams his nose into Beulah’s butt. A tabby-cat yowl coming from a crate not five inches away from her doesn’t even seem to register.
“Can I give Beulah a biscuit?” I ask the gal at the counter. “She looks hungry.”
“Nah. She’s already had four this morning. Thing is, as soon as she eats the biscuit, she begs for another. She does that all day long.” The woman leans over the counter and smiles down at the ancient dog. “Beulah never remembers that she just ate a biscuit, and I guess she never gets full.”
Something about this chills me. Something bothers me about that idea of being in a constant state of yearning.
Maybe because I recognize it in my own life. Maybe because I see a little of myself in Beulah’s fixation on more biscuit.
Like, for instance, the way I crave the feeling you get when you send out a “My writing got accepted!” email to friends and family.
How I yearn for the next infusion from the Muse. Words, gimme, gimme more words.
How easily I forget a good writing session and pine for another.
Yeah, Beulah, I feel your pain.
I can’t help this dog with her cravings and forgetting, although I do go over and give her a good head scratch.
But—and this is the thing—unlike Beulah, I can turn from my cravings. I can stop and say thanks to the Muse for guiding me in my garden-at-night poem, for helping me find the tendril of thought that strains towards what the poem is really trying to portray.
I can remember that I had a solid journaling session this morning, complete with the arrival of a memory about my college days in Gunnison, Colorado, when I had no car and walked everywhere. And because I was on foot and not in a car I noticed how the lines of snow on the mountains inched upward in May.
I can observe, and even admire, the way snippets and memories coalesce into a personal essay that explores why I am so obsessed with my elderly mother’s eating habits.
I can even appreciate a wobbly dog who pushes me to acknowledge the nourishment that writing gives to my life and helps me, for a moment at least, to feel full.
Lynn G. Carlson is a writer who lives on the prairie outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming with a retired firefighter, a span-triever and plenty of gophers. She has published poetry and nonfiction in various literary magazines and has an essay in NPR’s This I Believe archives. In 2016 she served as editor for Watch My Rising, an anthology of stories and poems about recovery from addiction. Lynn blogs at www.writingwyoming.com.