In my family, the humans are divided into those who are very, very private and protect every thought and emotion carefully, and those who are driven to share emotions and experiences. My mother, who is one of the private ones, has often told me it is a gift that I can pin emotions and experiences into words, stories that eventually makes sense, for those who cannot do it.
The flip side is, of course, that my drive to put words to experience, and then share those words, make the private ones feel slightly seasick. I’m currently engaged in a voice class, and writers nearly all have wounds–large or small–that come from a private (or “proper”) person attempting to stifle the writer who wants to EXPRESS EVERYTHING. Blue! Sex! Apples! Decaying body! Dawn! Incest! (And a big fat fly just landed on my coffee, trying to drink it all up–ick.) Working through some of those wounds can be enormously freeing, but it’s hard to get the idea across that the drive to do this is not an indulgence, but a calling.
Listening this morning to Krishna Das (while Leo the cat took his seat beside me, purring accompaniment) I was settling into a prayerful period and getting quiet so the day’s work might emerge a little more easily. This sometimes feels like a waste of time, really, that I should just get on with it, start writing already, but experience has taught me that even a ten minute meditative period at the start of a work day is a good thing. Like walking, it brings far more into my life than such a simple thing seems it should deliver.
As Leo and I contemplated the flickering candle flame, the words of Sri Hanuman Chaleesa penetrated my morning brain:
“Calling out to hungry hearts
Everywhere through endless time
You who wander you who thirst
I offer you this heart of mine.
Calling all you hungry spirits
Everywhere through endless time.
Calling all you hungry hearts
All the lost and left behind
Gather round and share this meal
Your joy and your sorrow
I make it mine”
I imagined a beautiful table, laid with a rich cloth and beautiful dishes of colorful food, and music in the corner, and hungry people coming in to eat and drink, their gray souls coming back to life. And I thought of my mother thanking me for a story she needed to read. I thought of the slim, well-tended woman who came up to me at a booksigning in Santa Fe and wanted to confess her sin of pouring milk over her husband’s car. I thought of the students in my current voice class, writing their way into accepting the call to do their own work, and how brave they are to wade in, to prepare the feast, to open themselves up to life and experience in such bold ways, letting everything in. See everything, even the ugly and painful. Be open to all experiences, all of them, uncomfortable and beautiful, painful and transporting. It’s part of the bargain we make before we show up on this plane, I think.
How lovely! Writing is like cooking, then, isn’t it? Feeding hearts and souls instead of bellies!
All work is holy. I’m thankful for accountants to put my finances in order, and my own teachers, and my sister the nurse, and CR, the computer wizard, who makes this communication possible. But each one must believe in the holiness of their own call, and then we are all enriched.
What satisfies you most about your own work?