An untapped power resides within each of us.
It responds to the call of writing.
When I wrote those words, I was referring to the profound ability within each of us to express our truth, transform our experience and discover our authentic self through the practice of writing. Writing seduces and inspires me but until mid-life, it never held a front-stage seat. In fact, I resisted strenuously its seemingly passive but calming influence. I was not looking to be calm in my 20s and 30s or so I rationalized. Nonetheless, whenever I felt “in trouble” in my life, I intuitively sought out my pen to sort out my inner experience. Today I use my pen to dig deeper into my awareness whether I am celebrating or struggling to understand my complexity.
For a simple illustration of writing’s ever-seductive, truth-telling quality, I regress to an early memory of its unconscious gift at work.
“H – E – L – E – N . . . . I guess we know who wrote this,” echoed my Father’s deep baritone from
our postage-stamp kitchen. Three little beaming faces ran to have a look. There carved into
the oak dining table was my name. Two sets of eyes widened with anticipation of trouble
brewing. I just kept smiling. It was my first written word. Well, actually it was printed. I knew
my Dad would be as proud as I was. I soon discovered pride might have been stretching it.
Not only had I learned to print my first word but I also learned not to leave my name as
evidence. Soon enough I progressed to engraving other peoples’ names on walls, flowerpots
or pretty much any flat surface where I could leave an indentation, my mark on life. It
was the beginning of my life-long romance with the written word.
From this early memory, I readily see my desire to memorialize in words the significant moments in life. Throughout most of human history, we used writing to document our experiences in order to remember them. With this purpose in mind – at the age of 21 – I plotted, page-by-page, a seven-month backpacking adventure across the European continent. Upon reading my journal after my return, I discovered writing’s true purpose on its very last page — to remember who we are so we do not continue to repeat past mistakes. In that final page as I segued into a new beginning, I wrote . . .
26 July 1976, Sitges, Spain
Lately, I am having depressing thoughts, mainly because I’m idle and have more time to think.
My thoughts are about my future; what my place in this world is meant to be. I had these same thoughts when I graduated high school, but the past four years have taken my mind elsewhere.
I kept busy with other problems; some interesting, but some wasted time. I can’t go on letting
things happen to me just to keep myself from being idle. I firmly believe I control my destiny,
but the big question is to what extent and how do I go about achieving what I am so unsure of.
There are times when I feel the world is passing me by, and I must do something about it. Time
passes so quickly and quietly that I look back on past years and wonder what I achieved. I still
feel I was put here to accomplish something special. Whether this be vanity or not, I have yet to ascertain. I seek help, but realize in the end I must make the decision for myself.
My overriding feeling when rereading this passage is amazement and this thought, “Even then I was aware of my avoidance patterns as well as the urging from within to seek purpose and meaningfulness.” Today, I would add, “And in the moments when I was best able to ‘hear’ those urgings and truths, I wrote them down on paper.” Writing, even then, took me to an unknown world deeply embedded within and, like an explorer, I wandered about to discover the buried treasures. By trial and error, I discovered the written word always led me to higher ground where I could see more clearly what lay before me.
Take five minutes today to listen and write down your own inner urgings. As I often do, you might start by writing “I am aware . . . “ and finish the phrase with whatever surfaces from your unconscious mind.