It only took a moment. I looked down. My computer bag was gone. Yes, I lost my driver's license, some meds, but mostly I was stunned. Would all my backups function? Had I backed up my poetry as carefully as my fiction?
Only days later did I realize the extent of my loss, pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime trip, six months through South America. Yes, all my backups (flash drive, DVD/CD, e-mailed copies of current work to my yahoo account), all worked. But the biggest loss was being able to write easily, whenever and wherever I wished. Now, only 3-1/2 weeks from home and being able to replace my computer, I'm calmer. I can write in bits and pieces, but I lost truly this last month as well.
Tenacity remains. I scribble on scratches of paper, a new notebook and whenever I have access (internet cafes, hotel lobbies), I try to write something -- bits of scenes, parts of poems, and posts to my travel blog.
What I learned: Back on up i-Google documents, especially when writing on the road. That service is free, private, and accessible from any computer (tip thanks to Internet Writing Workshop, an online writing critique group that shall forever be appreciated for their prompt practical and thoughtful advice). Trust yourself to write, no matter what happens. New concepts, scenes, bits of dialogue, insights into characters, commitments to different strategies for research, all have come my way. Appreciate what you have. No matter what your workspace is, know it, appreciate it! It is your unique writing place, your refuge, your inspiration. That view out the window, the line of books in front of you, the stack of notes, the quiet at early morning. You have made this as surely as any written product. And, if you are traveling, Wrap your laptop in your arms, no matter where you are -- in a bus stop after 12 hours, on the airplane, on a train, sitting in a rstaurant, or even standing on a corner.
We are often told some experiences can never be taken from us. What remains for me is a commitment to writing. I lost a few poems. I lost some treasured photographs. And perhaps several hundred research files. I cannot replace some of the drawings or notes. But I still write.
Leaves quiver in morning sunlight.
A mysterious bird warbles,
and its call is answered by a passing train.
I sit in this garden and watch for the birds
as the sun shimmers on the leaves,
the train passes, the ground rumbles,
and the chip-chip-chip of hummingbirds
punctuates the garden.
Pale white trumpet flowers sway,
the train´s bell makes a harsh last call,
metal on metal clanging, the rails hum.
I sit under this mango tree,
looking up into its green leaves,
where buds hallow into fruit.
The past, the present, the future,
all fuse in the humming bird's call.
The mountains rise around me impossibly high,
but I remain at peace,