I worry about using sentences that are complex enough to contain commas. Then I wonder if I am even using the commas correctly. Then I worry about how much I am preoccupied with with worry, and if that is getting in the way of coherently finishing a thought that might actually necessitate a comma, but that is cut short by fixation on technicality to early to be realized.
A professor, whom I hated, made a big deal out of commas. She said that old people whose writing had commas didn’t develop dementia. At a time when all I wanted to do was write, unbridled and creatively, I was stopped short by a new concern for the comma. The emphasis on writing for voice, on writing hard, deep, and profound, was interrupted. My perspective was shifted. The purpose of my writing became creating habitat for the little periods with tails; it consumed me, becoming one of only two things I remember from that introductory college course. The other take-away was how deeply I loathed the teacher.
But I do remember it, at least for now. So I write it in hopes that I will continue to remember remembering over the next 50 years.
My grandmother was lost to us at 68, Alzheimer’s had set in. She died at 80. Sometimes I think I feel memory loss happening. My head like the moon, waxing and waning in cohesive thinking and ability to remember the details. Once in a while my mind is brilliant; full, bright, and whole. I am desperate for insurance, wanting to keep the 12 bonus years my grandmother couldnt. I want an old-age of consciousness, present in reality co created by loved ones.
I fear the darkness of a long-term eclipse of my identity, memories, and understanding of time. Can I write enough commas to keep sharp until the day I die? Perhaps seek refuge in run on sentences, a vast territory that if I abide in long enough I will never risk having to come home to a period, thus escaping the possibility of losing my mind.
Will it work if I just write, and write, and write, and right or wrong so long as the intention was there, as evidenced by my grammatical intentions, I will be granted a pass into my golden years wisdom intact and still knowing my name?
The test will come when I am 80 and and able to recall how much I hated the professor and her insidious comma contagion. If I pass, I will tell my grand babies to write like their lives depend on it, and always generously toss in commas into sentences like pennies into a wishing well that never fails to deliver wild desires.