Counting Pills

I had a poetry professor who, before receiving her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, before earning tenure, before being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, even before writing anything she was proud of, spent 10 years fulfilling prescriptions at a pharmacy in the cold, cold midwest.

She once told me her mind wasn't occupied by much during that time. She said she didn't even write a single word. For a decade. 

I can see her there, counting pills, weighing capsules, twisting shut white caps onto orange bottles, stuffing them into a paper sack, folding over the top edge, stapling the receipt and dosage recommendations, then placing the goods into a cold stainless steel drawer from which the sick would retrieve their medicine.

What's interesting to me is this: as lonely as she recalled being, there were never any particularly negative comments about that span of time. By her estimation, that phase as a pharmacy technician had to occur for her to evolve into a person who could write and teach - and ultimately change my life.

May we have more grace on ourselves when passing through seasons. A friend of mine once told me while I was recovering from heartbreak: Take it slow - slower than you think. 

Whether we're soaring high, or in the gutter, one thing remains true - we're losing the battle against time. Best to feel every feeling across the spectrum of emotions in our short lives. And for the seasons when we feel nothing, perhaps we can find solace in the possibility we're unconsciously creating space inside ourselves for a later time. Perhaps we're providing healing to others in ways we'll never know.