Struggle and courage

by Clara Nipper

Dearest readers: I know we have all experienced loss and then really struggled to get our lives back on track. A little over a year ago, I had three devastating losses all within one week and although I have recovered and my life is actually better than before; I am still adjusting and have emotional flashbacks and setbacks. So the mantra I am focusing on these days is "stop hating yourself for what you aren't and start loving yourself for what you are." Also, "suffering comes from wishing things were different than they are." So these words may or may not be of use, but if there's anything I've learned over the past year-people care about you much more than you think and you are not alone. I wrote the short piece below on a plane ride after a particularly hard trip, but as hard as it was, I am still realizing the gifts that came from it.


You tell me you are so proud that I did that book reading in San  Francisco . You say I am courageous.

I am impervious to praise.

I wish I could feel that flush and thrill, absorbing that I accomplished something;

But it was just the last step in a long path of careful and rigorous preparation;

So it is only the sum total of a painstaking equation that I began years ago;

Like wiping one’s mouth after a Thanksgiving meal

Or taking a shower after a hard workout.

There is no pride in that. It is merely finished.

But what about pride in the secret daily things that are much more difficult?

Invisible struggles that require so much private effort.

Such as riding my bicycle to work every day through the cold, dark winter, carrying breakfast, lunch, manuscripts and a change of clothes on my back.

Such as having incapacitating panic attacks and still doing the laundry.

Such as going to work the day we had to put Katey to sleep.

Such as practicing my book reading aloud while walking at lunch instead of going to a restaurant with friends or playing computer games.

Such as giving up caffeine cold turkey.

Such as shaving my head bald just out of curiosity.

Such as being afraid to fly but doing it anyway.

Such as vomiting in the hotel room sink but then getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup for the event.

Such as eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily when all I want is potato chips and chocolate.

Such as driving across the state by myself to attend a class.

Such as being sick but still writing thank you notes.

Such not being able to sing well but joining a choir because I love to sing.

Such as facing that blank page day after day, year after year, rejection after rejection,

As published mediocrity continues to amaze and embitter me.

Such as the world telling me to give up and go to hell and I refuse

Such as working ten times as hard and it is still not the book I meant to write.

Such as missing you so much it stops my breath but still smiling and going on stage.

Such as watching the miles count down to home and not running full-speed, sobbing, headlong into you when I arrive,

Instead, walking sedately into your arms.