Response to Wm. Zinnser’s book, Writing About Your Life.
Long ago when the group at a prayer meeting in my home prayed for me for the gift of tongues, I KNEW I was to work in English, to write. I had a great compulsion to write then, mostly on an old typewriter set up on my ironing board in the living room, when my two babies were napping.
Those were days of inspiration to pray. Mostly I was alone in my room, with four children tucked away somewhere, hopefully asleep or busy at school. Sometimes I was so lonely then, for spirit-filled friends! But I had “visions”, day-dreams of people whom I did meet eventually. I think The Companion was with me then, as always. That was in Alaska, where bareness, cold white mountains, stunted trees, and darkness, dominate the visual scene.
Every life event has spiritual parallels. Right now my body is congested, backed up with shit quite literally, that I long to “express”! Likewise memories of experiences, mined for their meaning, are log-jammed inside me. At least I hope they are ready to burst forth in a productive e way.
I have no idea what I will do with all this writing, but not to do it is to retain it inside where it becomes toxic waste. But I know if I “put my hands out” God will fill them with good things! My life has not been wildly dramatic or exciting, but it has been very meaningful. Joseph Campbell (and others too) said “We live our lives forward, but we understand backwards.” That is quite true!
“Chop wood, haul water, insight comes, chop wood, haul water.” There is a lot of chopping wood and hauling water in my life that fills in all the spaces where “nothing” happens. I cooked, cleaned house, did yard work and laundry, read thousands of books, drove myself and others wherever we needed to go, watched games and television, sang in the choir, sat in the sun and did nothing. I gained a pound a year in weight, my hair turned grey, my night vision worsened, but I am still an optimist.
I write my life stories, little events that seem to speak loudly. I “imagine” my past lives and bring them out. Stories, poetry, plays, drawings, painting, insights, and photography captures moments and maybe meanings. Weaving, wall hangings and sculptures, I have a body of work stored in the hump backed trunk in the office. Nothing is ever “lost” or erased or forgotten in the grand complicated picture of existence. I am just highlighting my perceptions. Much as I enjoy and take pride in the life of my mind, it is the interactions with other people that are fodder for thought and insight.
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