For as long as I can remember, my mother kept a carefully cut out quote on the wood paneling of the cupboard over the breakfast bar in the kitchen. It said, “He who deliberates fully before taking a step, will spend his entire life on one leg.”
As far as where that came from, I know she cut it from a Reader’s Digest Magazine because my mother did that sort of thing. She mined the Quotable Quotes section of the RD for nuggets of wisdom and scoured the library for interesting thinkers of every stamp from any time period.
As everyone else in the sixties was experimenting with sex and drugs and rock and roll, my straight-laced mother was making an odd, dovetail journey, becoming a Montessori teacher (where she worked for Billy Jack director Tom Laughlin before he put on the hat and the super moves), finding The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda but simply ignoring the psychedelic drugs involved. My mother corresponded with the Rosicrucian Society, studied the I Ching, and the mystic Kabbalah, was a fan of Edgar Caycee, listened to tapes by Joel Goldsmith of the Infinite Way, and became a serious student of Transcendental Meditation.
(As an aside my first work experience, at 13, was answering the phones at the TM center on a volunteer basis.)
My mother was rarely satisfied with the status quo.
Which is not to say she was a bad mom. She was a terrific role model. I appreciate her more every year. It shows in the way I parent my children, the way I keep my home, and the wide open mind that allows me to ask, Why not?
Being unsatisfied with the status quo, my mother never stopped asking, Why not?
Why not, strike out on your own after thirty-three years of marriage. Why not try programming computers when you’ve trained as an attorney and a teacher and an accountant and spent years as a stay at home mom? Why not move to a place you find beautiful even though no one you know lives there and you’ve never lived more than ninety minutes away from where you were born?
There are two kinds of people, one asks why? and the other asks why not?
I believe I am pretty much the antithesis of my mother in most respects. I’m less intrepid, more anxious, and less dissatisfied. Yet in all the right ways, we were similar enough to be soul mates.
And I can tell you that the most important question my ever-questioning my mother ever asked, is how late is too late to start over?
I began my writing career at forty-seven because my kids dared me to try to get a book published.
Perhaps that was my own version of why not?
I’d been working book fairs at my children’s school for years, and one day I looked around and thought, each and every book on the shelf, every book in the library, every book in the world, started with a person just like me (I thought probably a LOT of them might be far more talented than I am, but that might not be the case for absolutely everybody) who sat down and started innocently enough, “Once upon a time,” and simply followed through.
I will add a question here that my mother never thought to ask, but I asked myself (as a romance writer) all the time: How late is too late to fall in love?
I’m a firm believer that one’s heart is never safe from love until the very last time it beats.
Romance is physical, it’s chemical, it’s visceral and chronic. It’s complicated, but never impossible. It happens when it’s inconvenient, and when you least expect it.
Someone comes along, and they take your breath away.
People still take my breath away, even though I’m old and happily married and even kinda too lazy for love. (That’s you, Daniel Craig honey, sorry I’m off the market. I hear Rachel Weisz is pretty cool, too.)
In my story Family Unit, a pair of unlikely over-forties find each other, and fall in love, almost at first sight. Nothing’s easy for them, they have the complication of different lives, different pasts, and an ornery live-in grandchild who needs almost more than his grandfather can provide. It’s complicated, but not impossible.
I wanted to write about two middle aged men who ought to know better but fall in love like teenagers.
I wanted to show how simple it can be to fall into step with someone and feel like you’ve known them forever, and at the same time, how every person is a new mysterious universe it can take a lifetime to explore.
Most of all, I want the world to read something I wrote and ask, at least for as long as the book lasts, why not?
You can find Z.A. Maxfield at:
or write to her, at:
zamaxfield at zamaxfield dot com