Before You Leave the Earth

Learn to write about the ordinary. Give homage to old coffee cups, sparrows, city buses, thin ham sandwiches. Make a list of everything ordinary you can think of. Keep adding to it. Promise yourself, before you leave the earth, to mention everything on your list at least once in a poem, short story, newspaper article.
— Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg

I have been asking for months what my purpose in writing is. In my current re-read of Gretchen Rubin's Better than Before, one particular line jumped out at me that I think may help me answer the question about writing. In the chapter on clarity, Rubin says, "Once I've spelled out the problem in words, the greater clarity usually helps me to spot a solution."

So to follow Rubin's advice, I forced myself this morning to identify the problem with my writing. Two full journal pages later, I have greater clarity and a possible solution. For starters, I am hoping to write some short responses (150-250 words) to quotes from my quote collection, beginning with the one above. 

There are so many ordinary things from which to choose. The ski gloves I wear for waterskiing, the purple rubber duckie sitting on the kid-size picnic table outside, the pad of pink sticky notes in the kitchen near the keys, the keys with the tiny library cards attached, the pack of my Bic Mark-It pens for copying down quotes….the list is truly endless.

But I’m to choose one ordinary thing this day, the apron I wear when I cook bacon or chop beets or deal with pork ribs for the grill. This apron is a gift from my sister and the only apron I’ve ever owned. I keep it in the cupboard above the refrigerator, where I can just reach it without getting a stool to stand on. I pull it down and put the already tied top loop around my neck and then quickly tie the sides behind my back.

I think of my grandmother who always wore an apron as she cooked. She made her own aprons  and cooked everything from scratch. I identify as a cook and my apron lends to the feeling. It’s protective, yet pretty, because my sister knows beauty. My apron is a tie to my grandmother, to my sister, to my love for bacon and beets and BBQ ribs. When I take off the apron and fold it up and place it back above the fridge in its designated spot, I am finished with the work but the beauty keeps.