Thursday, May 26, 2011

Succeeding at this Human Experience

We are not humans having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
~Pierre Teilhard deChardin~

Success means different things to different people and I think that it depends on background, education, genes, and, let’s face it, Fate. We can only do so much in the creating of our destinies. There are those moments when we realize that we need to let go. We take one path and end up going on a detour through the swamp when we expected to be flying high. We dream, we hope, we make good choices and bad decisions. We despair, we get depressed, we laugh, we cry.

When I was young I thought in terms of getting married, having children, buying a house, a car, and perhaps as time went on winning a Nobel Peace prize or even better, a Pulitzer Prize. Oh, and having lots of money without having to work too hard. This would be success.

That would be a broad definition, and not only that but also by whose definition are we measured by? Who (or what) decides what success is and what is not? Certainly recognition for something well done is important. It helps to validate us and weaves us into the common weave of humankind. Each of us is a thread of a wonderful tapestry.

In retrospect, I think that my years on this planet have added up to two main successes.

1. Childbearing/ mothering. Each time I gave birth (six times) I was brought back to myself. I tapped into the strength, courage, and faith and an abounding love that unfailingly brought me to tears of gratitude. I have never regretted my decision to have my children naturally (after my first experience in a hospital which was traumatic). Giving birth to another human being is the highest sacrament of all. Throughout life my children have me centered no matter what crazy things go on. Motherhood gives me confidence, and in spite of hard times, challenges, and doubts, that confidence has remain with me all these years. Now that they are grown the mothering style has changed but the love has only deepened on the most simple and profound level.

2. The evolvement of the spiritual/writing aspect of my life; for those things go hand in hand. The process of writing down my thoughts, of sitting in repose as I reflect on what is important to me has heals me, and thus helps to heal others. We are all connected. The writing journey is a journey inward, a path into the subconscious that inevitably leads to an epiphany and a realization of a truth that has perhaps lain buried. Through reading and writing I discover what I really believe in, not what I have been told, but what I believe. Through writing I compose my heart songs.

So much for the Pulitzer Prize, or writing as a way to make money. I don’t strive for that day when I will be published, rich and famous, with my picture on the back of my latest book. Success, for me is to have a peace of mind, to know myself, to love and be loved, to enjoy this human experience.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dreaming the Impossible, My Attempts at Fame


John Steinbeck once wrote that a writer attempts the impossible. I assume he was referring to writing, not flying or becoming invisible. It takes considerable effort to create images and feelings that transport us to other worlds and enable us to experience different perspectives. The right words can be elusive. Ask any writer. John Steinbeck was a talented and prolific author, one that I admire and I have concluded that his point was to set high goals, to dream. This familiar advice is wisdom I have heard throughout the years about life in general, and can certainly be applied to writing. My dream has been to write a book, my “impossible” book. I spend a lot of time staring at the blank screen and sometimes wonder why I bother. Although Doubt rears its ugly head I forge ahead stubbornly. I give myself no choice.

In my daydreams I am a famous author and have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. I imagine a glamorous photo on the back cover of my best seller. I travel on promotional tours; sign autographs and appear on Oprah, right up there with Frank McCourt or Alice Walker. I bask in the glory of fame and fortune. (I think of all of those royalty checks. Hmmmm.This may take some doing!) All I really know is that it is essential for me to put words on paper, whether I am writing an assignment, the passionate ramblings I put into my journals or the poetry that emerges from my heart in times of deep emotion.

My love of language began in the mid 1950’s when I was a shy first grader. I was sitting at my desk in school one day trying to make sense of the jumble of letters in my reader. The moment of truth came to me when I realized that letters put together in a certain way made words. Words made sentences, sentences made paragraphs, and then you had a story. (Thank you Dick and Jane)! With that epiphany a new world open up and thus began my love of the written word. It wasn’t long before I was scribbling out my own little stories. By the time I completed middle school I discovered writing was second nature. Compositions and stories flowed from my pen. I took pride in my work. I entered writing contests and had pen pals. My English teach gave me A's in both grammar and spelling and composition. My parents (a writer/editor team) also nurtured the talent that became my lifeline.

I took an unintentional sabbatical from writing in the seventies. Life was a swift and complex series of episodes that gave me time little to reflect, let alone write. I was a young wife and a mother at the age of nineteen. Raising my children and coping with my abusive husband consumed any creative energy that I may have had.

The years sped by and by the mid eighties I was writing again. The floodgates opened and I wrote passionately pouring out anger, sadness, joy, dreams and prayers into the pages of my journals. I re discovered my love for poetry when my second grandson was stillborn. I was profoundly moved by the experience and compelled to express my emotions as a way of closure. The outcome was a poem called “Quintessence,” which I submitted to a poetry contest. Weeks later I received a notification that this poem had earned an honorable mention. I was thrilled and so inspired that I decided to take a correspondence course in English Composition through a local university. This led to more submissions, two of which were published. I was a writer! My perspective of life had deepened with the realization that I have to write. It is my passion, my gift, and my responsibility.

Who I am as person and what I write are one and the same. The blank page comes vividly to life and demands to be shared. Fame and fortune may elude me and I may never get that interview with Oprah but I certainly enjoy the process as I continue to write, to dream, and “attempt the impossible.”

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