Thursday, April 18, 2013

Embrace the Possibilities

In the last few days since the Boston Marathon bombings, I’ve watched some coverage of the news on tv--not a lot but enough. I have checked articles online to learn the identities of the three fatalities, to learn something of the human beings whose lives ended on Monday, and I have viewed the praise of the brave people of Boston who ran towards the area of the bombings in an attempt to help the wounded and the selfless racers who continued on another two miles past the finish line of the race to the hospitals where they donated blood. I’ve also viewed speculation on the bombing suspects, have witnessed the public’s outcry for justice, seen beautiful displays of solidarity and respect, and have read words encouraging everyone to focus upon the way in which this traumatic event might strengthen us.

In the aftermath of the Boston bombings people's emotions have varied. People have reacted in ways that are most understandable. People are only human. Anger, shock, disbelief, heartache, sadness, compassion, fear, vengeance, grief, confusion, defensiveness, even seemingly oddly-placed humor will come from us when an event like this occurs. The day after the bombings I went for a long walk in my neighborhood. It was peaceful. A few cars drove past me and I was quick to wave to my neighbors. They wove back. And that’s when it hit me. I am just one person adding my own two cents worth, but I feel the need to write this. We need to do some things differently. We’re not all in a position where we can run to the wounded or investigate the crime that was committed or counsel the victims of the atrocity. But we can do something to make a difference. And we can start with our own circle of fellow human beings.

We can turn to the person next to us. We can say something nice to him or her...and mean it. Knock off the insincerity. What are we doing with that? Next, we can ask the person next to us to teach us something new. We can stop thinking that we know it all, that we know what is best for others. Sure, offer some words of advice when it’s requested, but beware of giving it when it is unsolicited. Then, perhaps we could work to spread positive messages of support to our neighbors, coworkers, extended family, and far away friends. We can stop spreading gossip, rumors, negativity. We can end the lashing out in passive aggressive ways that display our own insecurities. We all have them, but we need to stop projecting them onto other people who are simply trying to find their own way in this world. Stop trying to be right all the time. Stop trying to be witty. Stop trying to be the most intelligent person in the room. We are correct enough, witty enough, intelligent enough. We are enough. We have nothing to prove to anyone. We need to stop wasting time and energy and get out into the world to serve people. We need to work harder to accept others for who they are and begin practicing this with our loved ones. Let God lead people to a different path if that is what is needed. Just love others. Send them words of support. Give them a hug. Shut up and listen to them, work to understand their point of view instead of filling up the air space with our own.

We need to strengthen our spirits, our hearts. Spread more kindness. Find the beauty in the way people evolve. We need to step back and appreciate others. We need to trust more. Trust in ourselves, trust in others. We don’t always have to agree but if we just worked a little harder to be more open to others' points of views, we just might learn something quite profound.

We need to accept the fact that we are only human. We will contradict ourselves, prove ourselves to be hypocrites, display our weaknesses. But for God’s sake, can we stop pouncing upon one another when we stumble? Can we stop mocking one another’s beliefs, feelings, and choices? Can we stop competing, putting one another down so as to feel better about ourselves? We are enough and yet sadly contradictory, we are not even close to being what we could be for one another. 

Oh, I get it. Doubt will remain. I'll post this and there will continue to be heated discussions about crime, guns, education, religion, society, politics. But it all seemed so simple to me when I was out on my neighborhood walk. I looked out over the horizon of my small town and I felt the need to make sense of what was pounding for attention inside my soul. And after taking a few more days to think on it all, I wrote this. Violence is tough for me to understand. It isn't articulate. It isn't brave. But neither is doing nothing and blaming others for the ills of the world. So, pardon me as I get out into the world and give it a hug. It's time. I invite you to join me in an embrace of the possibilities for tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Voice vs The Blank Page

Hey. So it’s been over a week since I’ve taken time to write. In that time I have been reading, listening to music, talking with my kids, laughing with my husband, planning lessons, correcting papers, attending play rehearsals and performances, preparing taxes paperwork, paying bills, belting show tunes, and walking with my dog. All good stuff. Even the paperwork.

But all those items listed above cannot be the only reasons I speak of as to why I haven’t taken time to write. There’s been more to it than that.

Writing is hard work. There are some days when the words flow easily onto the blank page, but other days, a number of obstacles jump into the way. And those are not solely the lovable ones forever there in my daily life. The obstacles that are the hardest to leap over are those in my head, the ones I place there myself. The doubt. The guilt. The confusion. The hurt. The frustration. I type, then hit delete. I type again. Delete. I remind myself to breathe. Be patient. I expect more. I want to write but I think of my school bag with unfinished grading. I look at the clock and calculate when I have to get in the shower. I see cleaning that needs to be done. I think of tomorrow’s work agenda and what I need to do to prepare for the day.

But then I silence the To Do list. I push away the blank page that has haunted me with a few reminders that have dropped into my lap. One, from Shel Silverstein...

The Voice

There is a voice inside you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you--just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

Thanks, Shel. And thank you, God. For I know these reminders meeting me today are no coincidences. I hear the whispering again. I do know what is right for me. I’m listening to the voice. And what do you know... I’m writing. Left jab. Right. Go the distance, Anne.

Writer Elizabeth Berg wrote on Facebook yesterday. In part she said, “Each time I write... I want to say something about how beautiful life is while acknowledging that it ain't always easy being homo sapiens on planet Earth. And I want a reader to feel not alone. That is what writing gives to me..."

This is why I write and why I share my writing with others. Life is beautiful. It’s not always easy but I’ve never been afraid of a little confrontation, a little hard work, if it gets to the heart of the matter.  Honesty. Love. Having and using my voice to aid others, and myself. This is exactly why I’ll keep fighting the good fight. The blank page may win every so often, but this round isn’t over yet.