Sunday, May 22, 2011

Graduation (Redux)

I walked in the "big" ceremony for Fairfield University's graduate programs today, celebrating—once again—the completion of the MFA program. There were six of us from the first cohort representing and it reminded me of the very first residency, when the original 27 gathered together at Enders Island.

We wanted to be writers.

Over the next two years, we read about writing, we talked about writing, we argued (sometimes quite heatedly) about writing. We wrote. Some of us wrote poetry, some wrote short stories, novels, memoirs, essays. We all wrote craft essays. Most of us wrote monthly missives to our devoted mentors. I think all of us, at some point, wrote a few emails to one another in which we wondered why we were writing at all.

We gathered together for 10-day residencies on that magical island (and it is magical). We ate three meals a day together. We negotiated those showers (oh, those showers!). We "workshopped" the poems and short stories and novels and essays and memoirs. We partied. We listened to our peers and our faculty read.

We became writers.

It was nice to be reminded, today, of the special journey we shared.

Google Self

Once in a while I conduct a Google search of "Elizabeth Hilts," just to see what I've been doing. Normally I find a link to this blog, a number of links to the Amazon pages for my books (here's my Amazon author page), LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Tonight I found links to a Dr. Helen Hilts in Scottsdale, AZ whose middle name is Elizabeth and the obituary of Elizabeth W. Hilts. Frankly, that was a little unsettling (even more unsettling to learn that she had a daughter-in-law with the same name as one of my sisters-in-law).

Then I read the obituary and I felt better. This other Elizabeth Hilts seems to have had a good life: a family and friends who loved and admired her, she accomplished things, and had community connections.

I have to admit that, even though I took an active role in the snark about this whole Rapture non-event, I have been reflecting on the quality of life—just in case the world did end, how would I be judged by the Universe? My hope is that my efforts to live as authentically as I can—to be as kind as I am able, to act out of love as much as I possibly can, to bear witness and support the people I care about—would be recognized and my frequent failures would be forgiven (or, at least, understood). I guess what I really hope is that, like the late Elizabeth W. Hilts, I would be remembered kindly.

Now that we know that the world continues, what are you hoping for going forward?