“Writing begins with the breath.” So says author Laraine Herring. But what happens when you forget to breathe? Your muscles tense up and you write nothing, or worse, a lot of nothing! I have a little sign above my desk, “2 pages a day will give you a book in a year”. And yet, I have little more than a small collection of poetry, some blog posts and a very short story. What I’ve had instead were racing thoughts about all of my children. The ones that make me smile or laugh every day, the ones that are lazy and just don’t care, the ones that want to care, but are just too lazy, the ones that care a lot and just don’t have the toolbox to work with, the ones that are eating away their stomach linings in the sixth grade with tension over doing well, and the ones that are sugar sweet or lemon sour and rival the cane stalk in their hardness to figure outness!
But school is out and it’s summertime now. Today it’s just too hot for dancing in the street, so I’m sitting down to my computer and just breathing, just writing, whatever my fingers happen to tap out. For in self-examination, I’ve concluded that this is the way I operate, on the fly, sometimes best under pressure, listening to some barely audible heart song, almost all of the time. The challenge then is to get quiet, to permit the door to be flung open and the exhaling to begin.
I’ve accepted the challenge. Here goes, skooch over a bit and let me sidle up and tell you what’s been bothering me. Excuses. We’ve all used them. See mine above! Lack of courage. We’ve all been there at least once. Selfishness. None of us can claim to be perfect. Victimitis. Get out of my face. Downright laziness. Sorry, I can’t relate. I know someone who recently exhibited all of these traits and turned the blender on chop to whip up a chunky, hard to swallow suicide attempt on their dying mother’s birthday. Yes, you read that correctly, “THEIR DYING MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY”! Do they have issues with their mother you ask? Is there bad blood and punishment was desired? No, none of the aforementioned conditions existed. This is what we humans are capable of at our worst narcissistic moments. You see I purposely included myself in the we. I’m not up on a high horse looking down. Or am I? I guess I could be perceived that way if one considers one’s self a vicitim, and everyone else perpetrator of some ill will or injustice.
Stand straight up and use your God-given backbone is what I want to say. Life is hard. Sometimes easy, but mostly hard. If you were promised a rose garden, well, you were a victim, but again, get over it, get over yourself. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with what happens to you”. (Author unknown)
Everyone we meet, every nameless smiling or frowning face on the street is fighting some silent battle. This characteristic of life is something we all share. We, yes, all of us, whatever race, religion, creed, or socio-economic status are more alike than we are different. Years ago, I was in a position where I felt I didn’t belong and was out-classed and a wise man said to me, “No matter a person’s station in life, we all wipe our ass with toilet paper.” Somewhat similar to advising a nervous speaker to picture the audience in their underwear. Crude but true. Everybody poops. Yes, we do. But rich, poor, black, brown, or white, in our core, we all just want to belong. We all want to be loved. And yes, we all suffer. What we do with that suffering is what makes up our character. Do we use it to further our well-being? Do we turn it into art or therapy for others? Do we turn it into song, poetry, or dance? Do we open our hearts and minds to its lessons and do we use those to teach someone else? Do we focus on the fullness or emptiness of our souls? Do we look for more bad or do we focus on the good, however miniscule it might be. Remember Aesop’s lion and mouse fable? Could our saving grace look like an impossible dream? Can we use our suffering to achieve an impossible dream? I say yes! I say let’s do it!
We can each start by silencing the noise, breathing deeply and listening. It’s in that silence that the truth is found. It’s in that silence that the signs become clear, that the serendipity floats past whispering “catch me I’m yours”. Call it out, write it down and then just breathe. You’ll be able to write your story then. Believe! I just did!