I woke up today feeling distraught and hopeless. So many unknowns about COVID19. We get yanked back and forth “yes let’s open, no let’s close, no, let’s open, cases are spiking, but not everywhere, it could get much worse,” with no relief in sight. I’m angry at the press for focusing so intently on the worst-case scenarios. You know, the ones that provoke fear and increase sales, instead of reporting the full picture. It’s hard to know who or what to believe and that causes more fear. I can’t grasp what direction I’m going in and ambiguity is a hard place to hang out. Can I get a connection to something that matters to me?
Then there’s the ongoing hatred of our president which also causes anxiety, insecurity, anger, and more ambiguity. The protests for Black Lives Matter have sparked more hatred and divisiveness in the country, and rightly so, due to all the injustices and police brutality reported since the death of George Floyd.
There’s so much I can’t control
So much to wrap our heads around. I realized there is so much I can’t control, yet I was letting all these events hijack my day. So…I took a hard look at what’s in my control. I was desperate to find some solace, some hope.
Where do I begin? How can I get a connection to something that really matters to me? So I thought about why I started this blog. One reason was to be the most inspirational writer I could. Another was to read amazing creative fiction and non-fiction literature. On my About Page I say I have a novel approach to self-help. This means I share the wisdom and lessons I learn from inspirational literature with my readers. That’s where I get answers to life’s never-ending parade of challenges.
However, recently, I’d gotten off track and was focusing on how to manage social media. I’d put my writing and literary reading on the back burner. My inner discontent was sneaking up on me.
Then today – after struggling with the current affairs of the United States –I read two short stories from The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. It worked. Not only did it take my mind off what I can’t control — it soothed my soul, and reaffirmed my purpose. I got awe-inspiring insights that resonated with who I am and what I love.
Annie Dillard, is a fabulous and profound author who writes with seamless accuracy and intimate detail. She inspires me to take a deeper look at the world and add my story to it.
I read her short story, Living Like Weasels and wrote in my notes: Annie Dillard is the weirdest person alive. Her story confused me so I had to read it twice. Her quirkiness held some profound insights. In the story, she’s sitting in a favorite place by a pond. This weasel appears out of know where and they have an intense stare down. She says that their brains connected for 60 seconds before it ran off. Not only did it strike me as strange–a face off with a weasel–I was afraid it would viciously attack her! She, however, calmly begins to think what she could learn from the weasel … I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical senses and the dignity of living without bias or motive. And then I made my own connection with this story. Mindlessness in a time of crisis was right on point for me hence, blissfully living in the present moment, without bias or motive was a great start to turning around my day.
Reaffirming my purpose
The amazement continued as I read on. I quit my soul sucking job in January, 2020 because I was tired of being undervalued and underpaid. But deep down I knew I was exhausted from avoiding and excusing away my life-long dream of being a writer. I couldn’t bear to just go through the motions, anymore. Annie Dillard poignantly affirms exactly what I’m doing: We can live any way we want…The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. I finally stopped fighting and yielded. That soothed my soul and lit up my inner muse.
The final quote that struck me was: I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you.
That quote is life affirming–a tribute to authenticity and how to find a connection to yourself. You can’t control all the craziness going on right now. Even after you stop reading or watching the news, the fears linger. They hang around and scream doom and gloom at you all day! But I found comfort today in reaffirming my purpose which reaffirmed who I am, which reaffirmed my desire to seek and share my inspiration with you. It reminds me of a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: This above all: to thine own self be true.
Writing was always on my mind
I remember when I was in college and I couldn’t pick a major. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I did know. I wanted to be a writer. That’s why I drifted towards classes in literature and education. I was insecure and out of touch with who I was back then, and had no guidance or encouragement to pursue a writing career.
As life clipped along, and I was dealing with a million other distractions, I continued to read and write. It took me many years to get where I am, but writing was always a part of my life. I journaled, took writing workshops and when I got my Master’s in Spanish, my favorite classes were in Spanish literature. These literature teachers were in a way my literature and writing mentors. I now have many more writing mentors and I’ve actively sought them out.
It is always a good time to find the connection with the real you
I know how hard it can be to disconnect from the current chaos. However, it’s always a good time to find that connection with the real you. I’m going to recommend a podcast and a book to you. If I’d had these resources years ago, I know I would have gotten started a lot earlier.
I recommend these because a big part of me not exploring and pursuing a writing career was because I was paralyzed by shame. Brene Brown is a shame specialist and her insights are life changing. They help me everyday. So checkout Brene Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us and her book The Gift of Imperfection. I absolutely love how genuine she is. She expresses herself and her vulnerabilities and it makes her so relatable. And you think, wow, she’s this famous person and she has insecurities, challenges and bad days just like the rest of us. I don’t know too many people in my life who really put themselves out there like she does, but I think she’s changing the world for the better.
That’s all for this week. I hope you are all staying well, under the circumstances, and I hope you’ll use this opportunity to take a deep look at yourself and get “real.” Leave a comment below or email me and tell me what you do to get a connection to the real you.