Ad astra per aspera

“How are you doing these days?”

“Oh, I’m fine.”


What was today like? Three hundred insults and injuries. The circuit breaker blew when you turned on the toaster. A twinge from your back. Looks like mice in the pantry again. The kid’s tantrum. Ugh, what a traffic jam. What’s that smell — is something wrong with engine or is just an old moldy french fry? Spilled the coffee on my sleeve. Why does Microsoft Word want to update now . . . I have a Zoom to join. Forgot the guy’s name again, embarrassing. I hate my voice. Ralphie is such a creep. Better smile. That to-do list is getting mighty long. I’m dead from deadlines.

I’m fine.

It’s like writing.

How do I start? Blocked again — the muse has deserted me. What are those blue wavy underlines — passive voice again? Thought I’d fixed that. Seven hundred words into a five-hundred word post. I’m bored with my own voice. Where’s Sarah with the research? Word crashed. Too many exclamation points. What’s the right word? I was in flow a minute ago, what happened? Does this argument make any sense? Where’s the lyricism? Is there a storyline — I can’t find it. Did I really use “write” for “right?” Ugh. I thought I was a writer — am I a writer today?

Writing is like life.

Focus hard enough, moment by moment, and you see nothing but the obstacles and flaws.

Pull back a bit and you see the struggle, each act a tiny triumph over a setback. Steps back to go forward.

A moment’s rare perspective and you see it: the broad sweep. The struggle is worth it. The results are good — not perfect, but well worth doing. The accomplishment is there. Not great every day, but getting better. Getting better.

“How are you doing these days?”

“Oh, I’m fine.”

Maybe the truth.

Ad astra per aspera. Through difficulties to the stars.

Photo: Kelly Michaels

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  1. You just described most days for me…. Was purging old files and found an article I wrote for a parenting magazine 20 years ago. I forgot about the article and a joke line I wrote made me laugh all over again.

    Nothing makes it worth it like picking up something you wrote, rereading it, and thinking, “You know, that’s pretty good.”

  2. It’s not every day I see my state (Kansas) motto as a heading. Growing up in Kansas, I believed in our motto, Ad Astra per Aspera (To the stars through difficulties), but have never seen it described in such a marvelously down-to-earth fashion. Thanks!