We discover that by sharing with each other we find strength to go on (3)
So much of the work I’m doing for the Wellness & Writing Connections organization focuses on how effective writing is in healing. One of the things I’m discovering is that in sharing stories we are also building community. It is this facet of the process that I especially find interesting. Whether in a journal or sharing over a cup of coffee or pouring our words out through tears as we hide our face in another's shoulder, the story we shape becomes something important in the sharing. How often do we feel alone in a struggle we are facing only to find that, when we are vulnerable to say " I am hurting because . . ." there are others who come forth and say "I am hurting too"? It is this vulnerability of the self that allows us to connect with one another lovingly and beautifully.
sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly. (19)
lady in red
i waz missin somethin
lady in purple
somethin so important
lady in brown
lady in blue
a layin on of hands (84)
When I remove the different speakers of this part of the performance poem and have only the poetry itself, this part becomes:
i waz missin somethinsomethin so important
a layin on of hands
Again, the idea of touch, of connection, of community. So important. So very important.
i found god in myself
& i loved her/ i loved her fiercely (87)
Anne’s House of Dreams
[N]either of them seemed to entertain much fear, or hope, that their married life would cure them of romance. (14)
I can write pretty, fanciful little sketches that children love and editors send welcome cheques for. But I can do nothing big. (15)
I suppose, like most readers, I can’t help but assume that Anne occasionally speaks for the author much the way I imagine that Jo speaks for Louisa May Alcott in Little Women. It is sad to think that Montgomery didn’t see her writing for children as something worthy of esteem. I suppose it could just be polite humility but I know enough writers to suspect that this is not the case.
[W]e mortals all shrink from to close contact with God or devil. (34)
This just made me laugh because it is so true. We are just as frightened of those who have a touch of greatness about them as we are of those who are hateful and vile.
I reckon the gods laugh many a time to hear us, but what matters so long as we remember that we’re men and don’t take to fancying that we’re god ourselves, really knowing good and evil. (87)
I found this deliciously ironic because this is so far removed from how many Christians seem to think, labeling one thing a sin and another a virtue, believing without question that they do indeed know the difference between good and evil. Not that non-Christians are not guilty of this as well and even my suggesting that Christians are “guilty” of this is my giving a label of “evil” to such judging.
Death grows friendlier as we grow older. (101)
The p’int of good writing is to know when to stop. (144)
Big Girl Small
What good is there in seeing your situation clearly if there’s no escape from it? (8)
[I]f you have the capacity to experience huge, engulfing joy, then you can also feel its equal and opposite level of pain . (15)
I’ve been thinking deeply about equanimity lately and how it relates to emotions. Jesus, himself, was accused of lacking compassion for not reacting (although he did respond) to the news that Lazarus was dead. The Buddha suggests that the person who has equanimity is “without ill will.” Can one experience fully the emotions of life and still maintain an equanimity, neither trying to hold onto the “engulfing joy” nor pushing away the pain that is also a part of life? There seems to be a direct correlation between acceptance and impermanence with equanimity; that the awareness of acceptance and impermanence would inevitably lead to equanimity. And this is why, even when I’m reading a novel, I end up thinking entirely too much about things.
Maybe we all eventually become calcified chunks of our own essence. (23)
His eyes were blue, dark blue, like where the sand bar ends and the water changes into the color of drowning. (47)
There is nothing philosophical or curious about this quote except that the author manages to take a clichéd image (drowning in someone’s eyes) and rephrase it in such a way as to make it feel new and interesting. I think it was at this point in the novel that I thought it might be better than I had initially expected.
[B]eing a teenager isn’t gradual, that’s the funny thing. It happens all of a sudden, and your bedroom can’t quite catch up with you immediately. (82)
True love isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event. (132)
I was just talking about something along these lines with Rob. There used to be a beer commercial on the radio in which a guy describes a perfect relationship that lasted only 17 minutes, or something like that. How he sees this stunning woman, buys her a drink, they talk, they laugh, they say good-bye. And that was his perfect relationship. Given that all relationships end badly, “true love” (whatever that means) is not a guarantee of happiness nor of ease but simply an emotion manifesting as an experience, sometimes reciprocated, but inevitably ending even if you live long enough to have a “lasting love” because death cannot and will not be denied.
Adults who talk about themselves endlessly in front of young people are unacceptable narcissistic freaks. They should do the asking. (154)
The narrator of this novel is a teenager but when I read this I thought, “We should all do the asking.” I remember once asking someone I chatted with online and had been talking with for years (approximately five or six at the time), “What are my children’s names?” I had noticed a tendency in this person to focus on his life and experience. I often felt exhausted and drained after our talks or chats and I eventually realized that we rarely talked about me or any of my experiences. So when I asked him this question, it was a test of sorts. He failed but it highlighted to me the importance of being present, of also being balanced. There are times, of course, when we reach out to one another in pain and grief but we need to bear in mind that sharing our joys is just as essential and being there when the other person is suffering is also important. Relationships are mutual, within the ebb and flow of life, and when we give generously we should receive generously. Asking is an expression of presence. Asking a question says, “I am here. I am listening. I care.”
Being alone can make you lose track of what’s real and what’s not. Maybe because most of what’s ‘real’ gets confirmed by how and whether we talk and write about it. (262)
Again, this ties in with the work I do and how telling our stories gives them meaning, often reframing the details into something metaphoric and relevant beyond the individual.
The Illustrated Discovery Journal
It takes courage to be authentic in a culture content with only conformity. (viii)
[H]appiness is dependent on one thing: self-worth. (viii)
This resonates very deeply for me. I know that a lot of people think I’m strong because of some of the things I’ve lived through and how I remain optimistic in spite of setbacks, etc. My mother’s husband pointed out that my mother and I both have an unusually high happiness set-point. We may get depressed, even fall into that “opposite level of pain” I quoted above, but we tend to rise sooner rather than later. Rob and I both comment on our happiness which, contextually, doesn’t make sense. If you look at the surface of our lives, there is little here for which we should be happy and yet, inside ourselves, we are.
I hadn’t equated any of this with self-worth, however. It is hard, sometimes, to look around me and not appreciate all I have. It is equally easy for me to think that I must really be full of self-loathing if my life isn’t any better than this. Of course, that latter has more to do with the endless and erroneous messages that come from those who expound the “Law of Attraction” philosophy. After all, if I were vibrating on the right emotional level then my life would be better and the only reason Rob has diabetes and I have vertigo and I don’t have a job is because I am attracting this into my life.
Ummmm . . . okay. I obviously think that’s a bunch of nonsense. I’ve certainly written as much before in this blog. I have no patience for this irresponsible teaching that has become some ubiquitous. But I digress . . . Back to the quote.
I love what it says about how we carry our own happiness, regardless of our circumstances, because of our self-worth or, as is more commonly said, self-esteem, because when we are happy within ourselves then we carry that happiness with us wherever we go. Perhaps this has something to do with equanimity as well, that our set-point of happiness is our leveling off emotionally and although we may rise above or fall below the line occasionally in a normal healthy emotional response to circumstances, over all the happiness we feel, the peace, the love, and the deep down joie de vivre, the tujours gai, remains steady throughout.