I haven’t posted in my blog for over four months, which I’m sure is a new record. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, it’s not that I haven’t started draft after draft… it’s that every time I sat down at my computer to work on a post, what I wanted to write seemed insignificant compared to what’s happening in our world. It seemed unimportant in the scheme of things. How could I, with my little creative writing corner of the internet, face up to the grand global disappointments or another unsympathetic executive order or further descent into madness.
As the EPA was gutted, climate science denied, school and health programs endangered, I sank deeper and deeper into the mindset of, “What I do doesn’t really matter.” How could being a children’s author matter when the ice caps are melting. I felt paralyzed from writing a post while the U.S. headed backwards in terms of environmental protection and new policies (or undoing of old ones) threatened the most vulnerable of us – the displaced, the young, the elderly, the ill, those less fortunate in whatever way.
A few months ago I was riding on my enthusiasm after the Women’s March when I ran into a neighbour enjoying the sunshine. She could tell that I was all riled up on righteousness and feminism, and I began to get riled up about her NOT being as riled up as I was.
I said, “Don’t you feel the need to DO something?”
She said, “I am. I’m holding the space for healing and meditating on peace.”
I was aghast. This was no time to take the quiet road, this was a time to speak up and take REAL action and make some REAL noise.
“I don’t think that’s enough,” I said.
“It’s what I can do,” she said. “It’s all I have the energy to do.”
The Buddhist tenant “Do no harm” came to mind. It’s a simple, but strangely radical idea, and difficult for any human to follow. But it’s a place to start. I thought about how our world would look if we all practiced doing no harm. If we managed to raise human consciousness with a wave of doing no harmness. And then maybe we could go beyond that to the undoing of done harms.
You may be an activist and think that my neighbour isn’t really doing anything close to enough. But I’ve sat with this for a while, and after long discussions and getting to know each other better, I’ve learned that her role in this world is to be of service to others. And truly, if each person on the planet saw their purpose as being of service to others, we’d have a tremendous cycle of love and support and mutual respect. And truly, no matter WHAT we do for a living, we can always be of service to others in the doing of it. We can always work from the space of love and support whether we are accountants, police officers, plumbers, or writers.
I finally came out of my stupor with the realization that my work is also one of service, and my life one of trying my best to “do no harm,” working toward that higher consciousness. If this is what I know I’m meant to do, then in the loving of doing it, aren’t I passing my love onto others? Aren’t I, too, holding the space of healing through creativity? Through teaching? Isn’t that enough?
I’m not saying that I won’t make phone calls or march or donate money or practice recycling or vote or stand up when necessary… it’s just that I don’t have to be that all the time. I don’t have to make it a career choice.
This blog was never meant to be political. I reminded myself of that. This blog was meant for writers, students, teachers, lovers of writing, lovers of creativity. It was meant to be a service to those looking for inspiration, support, connection, and community. In my non-political hours, THIS is what feeds me, which in turn, I hope, feeds others. This is how I express my love in the world whether it’s a blog post, a classroom visit, or a story editing gig.
So go out and do what you love, love what you do, and make it an act of service. However small that may seem, it matters.
~ ~ ~
TIMED WRITING GUIDELINES
Set your timer for 7 – 15 minutes per start line
(I usually increase the time with each start line: 7 min, 10 min, 12 min …)
When timer starts: write, don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t cross out.
PICK FROM ANY OF THE BELOW START LINES
(use any character, doesn’t have to be your protagonist)
MY CHARACTER feels hopeless / overwhelmed by the world when…
MY CHARACTER feels insignificant because…
MY CHARACTER inadvertently harms others when…
MY CHARACTER can only redeem themselves once they…
MY CHARACTER’s acts of service come in the form of…
MY CHARACTER acts from a space of love when…
(NOTE: I will be holding another 50 First Lines Contest in the next few weeks (prize TBD). If you’ve never participated before, go HERE. I held one a few years ago and it was a hoot.)