Seeking Clarity, Maybe Even Peace


**** Hello All,
I have been away. Lots of life to attend to. I am beginning to make my way back to doing what I really love –writing and corresponding with you. There’s a partial explanation to my absence contained in this blog post. I have also been busy working on a novel (among other creative projects….)
I’ve missed so much my interaction with you, though. I would just like to say thanks for caring, paying attention, reading, sending prayers and love for our family as my son Nathan has gone through cancer treatment. He is doing great, praise be to God and Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.****

Gray, desolate, vast. Frozen creek beds, cutting jagged fissures through unforgiving terrain, all of it menacing, deadly under certain circumstances, why was I so drawn to the land 39,000 feet below?

An overwhelming urge to parachute in, I wanted to be right there, on a pencil-thin line of pavement that stretched for miles from a slate-tinged T in the desert floor, an intersection of highway etched in the wintery, blue Arizona twilight. I followed the road with my eyes, a barely discernible straight line off the T that cut across the mesa then disappeared into the foothills. Near as I could tell, we were flying over the San Francisco Mountains north of Flagstaff.

Cold. It looked so cold. Daylight was descending, November snow had already outlined the mountains, every ridge, so clearly, so crisp, like folds in a blanket surrounded by flatlands dusted with powered sugar.

What would it feel like to be out there? I was captivated by the thought. Realistically, it would be both exhilarating and terrifying. I would be alone. I would have zero interference. I would have an unobstructed view for miles in every direction. Would it be mind-clearing or cleansing in a way that yields fresh energy or renewed purpose?

For the past six months, I feel like I’ve been catching scud missiles with my bare hands, not all of them destructive, mind you, simply impactful.  A son with cancer, a reunion with a man I love, my daughter’s wedding—a triple scoop of emotional density right there.  Top it off with a full-time consulting job and full-time graduate school and you begin to see why I’ve developed a tick for desert twilights. The good news is my son is doing well, my darling man is a gift like no other, and my daughter and her bride are astoundingly lovely. For all of this, I am grateful beyond measure.

I just need a moment.

When things get a bit too intense (which I confess is largely self-imposed) and I feel like my life is a crowded airplane where the  kid behind me is kicking me in the back, I crave space. I am drawn to solitary places. I long for the linear luxury of an open highway or a panoramic view of some beloved landscape, sensing that if I scan it quietly, solemnly, with great deliberateness, the horizon just might release the evaporative vapors of something precious to me; my own truth.

It’s a need, I suppose, to stand in one place, to look down the road, calmly, to feel rooted again, free from the clatter of my own neurosis, and the expectations and opinions of others, even those who love me. Nobody else can do this for me. It’s a single player game.

In the protected confines of self-examination under an endless winter sky, I would throw out my questions to God or the universe indiscriminately. There is something very grounding in simply having the courage to ask, “what will be?”  All the while, I know that the answers do not come on cue. None of us has the ability nor burden of knowing, not really.

But, I do know two things: there is the pencil-thin road that disappears into the darkness and there is the T, the intersection of light and love, where, I am at this moment, landing.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

Facebook | Twitter | eNewsletter | RSS | Subscribe to Blog by Email | Buy Off the Leash


  1. Jean–
    Congratulations to your daughter (double the daughter fun now!), to your son and his good health, to you for finding (refinding?) love.

    Now, go work on that novel. You have a bunch of readers who are eager to read it.