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It is a beautiful spring day in May, and I am pruning my boxwoods. I planted them seven years ago with the intention of having a major topiary experience, but most years I find myself editing them to their most essential square. When pruning boxwoods, it is recommended that you not cut into the leaf. You must find the "Y" in the twig and cut it from there, otherwise you risk harming the shrub's growth. I find this small yet precise move, leading to a large overall effect, very familiar.
A dozen years ago the question of where I was going got louder than anything else in my head. My life had taken a certain trajectory into the world of films and stardom when I was quite young, and I hadn't stopped to question it. But in truth, it was like wanting a pony for your birthday and getting a big shiny merry-go-round instead.
Although I have participated in the odd film project here and there over the last twelve years, I had no real desire to hop back on that merry-go-round. I watched others as they grabbed for the golden ring and felt fine out in the country on my pony. It is a strange experience to be so in a certain world, and then not. I tried to imagine how to start anew.
I collected doors: odd ones from barns, farms, homes, and from my travels. I have dreamed of them in the forest, imagining myself walking through just the right one when I need a boost. I see them as thresholds to newness. Transformations can begin with a start.
Once, my friend and mentor James Bridges found me hiding under the covers, as I often did when I finished a job. I always felt that the roles I accepted must be inextricably linked to my life if I were to keep finding the passion to fuel each job. I had been to the desert making a film, and now everything in my life looked different. He quoted, "She took to her bed to lose her looks."
Charles Dickens, I think. It always made me smile. I could never quite decide if it was about the way the world looked at me or about the way I looked at the world.
I am always searching for the next door, the next role, the next change.
But right now I am pruning boxwoods, twelve to be exact, and I am wondering just how long it will take my mind to stop chattering and allow me to write. A fat red robin with the most laughably blue eggs in its nest is flying to the mud beneath the mailbox, hunting worms like letters from the earth. I want her to come and write this preface.
This morning in May, I am cutting boxwoods, pre-face and after-words on the threshold of my slender volume, with no instructions, directives, or map -- just a sort of pruning of a dozen years to their essential square.Copyright © 2008 by Debra Winger