It is a season of one step forward, two steps back, and a hustle sideways for me. Our family is preparing (bracing?) for an empty nest in less than a year and also a move across the state to make connections easier for all of us. Cobweb clearing is happening in all areas of my life. I am using my favorite cleaning tool—words!—to scrub away old paradigms. We are not starting over; we are starting afresh. The seeds of change are germinating and I am eager for the first sign of green sprouts.
I’m deep into a favorite book from my childhood to kick off my summer reading. Nothing like those long, lazy summer days when being a kid meant plenty of outside roam-around time and a stack of books in the tree fort.
Remember what it is
We are trying to do here:
It leaves you reeling and
Me exposed but lighter
It’s a selfish little game
The exchange is not benign:
You suckle on dark candor
I feed on your fascination
The success of our symbiosis
Balances atop one unresolved verb:
A tiny glimpse. A sudden flash of tender memory. The reward for trying something new. And mostly just being brave. Exercising courage. A fluttering heart. Pressing forward even when it feels like having to start over. A tiny tap on a closed door—one passed many times but not today!—and the door swings ajar as if it was never latched. An open heart opens doors.
For me, it has been an autumn of mulling—no, not cider—but ideas of progress and forward momentum in writing and other areas of my life. I am making space for small daily practices, for touchstones, and defining larger intentions. Some days, I occupy a slow-moving meditation space pacing the neighborhood with my dog; most days are still plagued with some degree of worry and hurry within a dulling fog. It is a journey, not a destination; it is a challenge to keep the faith.
Reading has slowly been seeping its way back into my routines, and I am being a good steward of my reading practice, choosing material carefully, delicately, aligning my intake of good writing with my own slow trickle of contemplative writing. Recommendations of authors from writer friends, old favorites, serendipitous discoveries online and at the bookstore. A season of busyness balanced with the nourishment of good writing is a good venue for space-making.
The illusion of time is fraught with speed bumps. A memoir – my memoir – cannot be told simply by following a linear timeline. And structure falls away when I apply the concept of time. Add in the facade of space – that ever-morphing mist that cannot be corralled or molded – and writing meaningful memoir becomes even more elusive. The story must lean on the strength and depth of its characters; this is the key to captivating memoir.
Even now, as I type this blog post, I (the main character) am hurtling towards my next scene, whether it be revelatory or mundane. The story of a memoirist is always unfolding; I am continually climbing the narrative arc or descending it. Everything is part of the story, and my story interconnects with yours…
In the past year, my writing goals have shifted away from “completed, polished pieces” to writing that achieves full expression. It has taken a full year to make the transition from school deadline thinking to viewing my writing as—essentially and fundamentally—a vehicle for self expression. Writing is pure art for me, not a means to crank out neat and tidy narratives to send off to literary journals to build a resume. This metamorphosis is liberating me from my dream incubator phase, the threshold of transition from MFA student to artist. (Though I aim to always be a student of life.)
With this paradigm in place, I have literary art moving through my soul, out my fingertips, onto this blog and released into the virtual universe. My art enables me to evolve as a person and share ideas on a global scale. Through art, I can question, explore, and encounter all things related to this human experience. Self expression is not only possible through art, it is a guaranteed gateway to self knowledge and progress. Art promotes positivity; it expands the capacity for change and advancement at every level.
Creating is all about revealing oneself – has self examination gone out of style? As a contemplative, I consider reflection an essential pillar of living well. Art is the great enabler of living well. Make today count, make art.
To add to the collective anxiety happening in our country right now, I have been putting out some pretty intense vibes of second-guessing myself (gasp!) as a writer. I know nothing in this vein will prove beneficial. So why do it? As a contemplative, I absolutely have to do this when serious questions arise. So for the sake of this post, I will refer to these questions as musings. That sounds so much less damaging.
So there is anxiety on a grand scale and musings on a personal level. And a tiny crack in my belief in my writer self. I spent months wrestling with the idea of writing as activism via an online platform. Is this the best use of my time? Is our collective consciousness well fed by online opinions? This is the technology age and we think and form opinions largely by this monsoon of information coming at us 24/7. Perhaps we are overfed. Lethargic. Smug and proud. Drowsy in our complacency.
What about experiential knowledge? Is it being phased out by the global capabilities of the web? I can only examine my one small life. And I do see a lack of action. This is where the pen comes in but not only the power of words. There is power in unity and connection and this is how to combat complacency. What will it take for me to act, to promote action towards a higher awareness for us all as interconnected humans? That is my current undertaking as a writer and human. To uncover that particular motivation to move my pen, my feet, my heart. I want to live the experience.
Ahhh, January. The time of resolutions, the season of looking forward to a fresh start. I know women who are busy selecting their word for the year ahead, a word to encapsulate their hopes and goals for 2017. But not me. Not this year.
In the spirit of not looking back (see previous post), I am choosing not to select a single word to encompass and shape my entire year. Who knows what a whole year will bring? I don’t want to hem myself in like that. It’s just an exercise in planning, a word to help maintain focus, right? I believe that words have power, so I am not limiting myself to one word. My new year will be filled with wordiness and verbosity, the days ahead will bear witness to the wisdom of an abundance of words.
Words are free. Free.
And I will use them freely this year.
Last week, I started this post multiple times. I hesitated because I had a lot on my mind. I thought about our country’s collective anxiety wringing out my empathetic nature. I thought about how much I dislike social media. I thought about being a female wending my way through a male-centric society. I thought about SNL skits and real life elections. In short, I meditated on a lot of negative vibes.
This week, I resolved to not look back. There is only forward, and so I will be forward–thinking. I will be proactive in my small circle to promote peace and love, to be part of the healing process. I am singing a song of harmony, and I hope you will join me.