The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing






S, up, up, up and onto my park bench. 


Hey B. Not so sure about that. I think I’ve really lost hope. 


What would make you lose hope after coming this far?


I’ve been so down lately. You know, still wandering in the joy desert. I went to therapy yesterday and was able, at the end, to find that I am deeply, deeply lonely. That this could be what is causing me to feel this way. 

Teresa asked if I’d been sharing any of my journey with anyone and I said in the past week I had tried with three people. 

But it was three swings. 

And three misses.

I keep going, B, because that’s who I am and I have nowhere and nothing else to do. 

But I had to just stop in my tracks and acknowledge how severely this loneliness seems to be impacting me now. 

It hasn’t stopped me from writing. 

But it has pulled me down into a depression and kept me down. 

Maybe it’s the leaving fish—the leaving fish leaving me lonely. But writing too is a lonely task and I do seem to find myself a writer. 


We’ve been lonely our whole life. It is only now that we have something very concrete to demonstrate to our loneliness. We have—

8578 pages and 1703 days—


(thank you Monkey)—of loneliness we can document. 


Our lonely-o-meter!


In confronting the loneliness, in living with this sadness, I feel more clearly that this has a lot to do not just with the Sandbox and all its contents but also in the writing—the craft, the art—the writer I never really came to be and the years wasted in whatever else I was doing. 

I cried myself to sleep last night mourning the loss of something that I could have been, the loss of decades where I could have been developing my craft. 


We have written one published book. We wrote a syndicated column for five years. We found this—this Sandbox—exploding out of us which is, S, part process but also, part story too—the story of someone trying with all their might, the story of someone who is not giving up because she doesn’t know how to nor should she. 

This is our story, S. The story of us finding self and finding self as a writer. 

We are learning and healing and if we weren’t we would be asleep—still. 

We must, S, continue on. 


B, it hurts. I hurt. I’ve not been this submerged for this long ever. I usually have days where I just feel better. 


It is lonely. And it was lonely long ago. You have reached out and we will join a writer’s group next month. How perfect for us; a group lead by an experienced writer that helps others to complete manuscripts. It is a few blocks from the house. It is inexpensive. 


I don’t feel good about anything, B. I’m trying to but I’m failing. 


There is fear of emerging. For when our story comes out, our story becomes real. But just like the complaint, once we hit send, our infection cleared. Getting this story up and out of is is the next step in our journey. 

And we can do this. 

We’ve written one book before that has been published. 

We’ve written a book about the Sandbox and we are re-writing it now. 

We know what we need to do, what we need to say. 

We now even know and have been told by a master to stop hanging onto perfection: 


“I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it.

Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life.

I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.”

Ann Patchett



Embrace your loneliness

It serves to inform

It gives you rain

When you need a good storm.

It clears out space

Washes away debris

If you listen closely

It can set you free.