What will you do with your one wild and precious life? - Mary Oliver

Friday, July 30, 2010

Letter to My 20-Something Self.

Interesting post from Cassie Boorn at http://cassieboorn.com/20-something-self-letters/. She is posting letters written by women to their 20-something selves. In giving this project some thought, I have to think hard to remember what I was doing when I was 20. What would I write to that "me"? What would you write? These are my first thoughts:

Dear Emma,

These are some thoughts I have been having about your life that I feel compelled to share with you. I can see that you are looking for affirmation that you are worthy, and lovable. I can see that you are very unsure of your own gifts and talents in this world. You are so young, yet you have depth uncommon to others your age. An ancient soul. This letter is to encourage you to dig down deep within yourself and tap into that inner wisdom. I know, you have your doubts. I can assure you that there is a richness there that you have never even begun to imagine. But perhaps women do not find that security within themselves until they are past 60. That is my truth, anyway. Now I know that it was always there, but prior to say, age 50 or so, I was only skipping the surface like a dragonfly. You do not need the affirmations of others to prove you exist. At your age, you have no idea of your potential. I have a warning for you that you will not heed. I know you are enamored with that boy. You are thinking just because he is outgoing and uninhibited that he can speak for you. You are thinking just because he is from a place you have never been that he knows how to live. You are thinking that since your own family is so dysfunctional, with your mother being an alcoholic, that this boy is a doorway to a life you think is normal. But consider this: are you looking at the same person the world sees? Are you looking for an escape to something, or from something? And take a real and honest look at your options. If you had accepted that scholarship to Millsaps, what would your life be like in ten years? If you accept that job offer at the R & D Center, how will your life change? You are wise, but you do not know that now. You will continue on this same path. And some day, you will wake up and see the world as a new place, and see your true self as a strong and courageous soul. Some day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Welcome to the University of Emmaville!

I've always wanted my own school. The curriculum would include:
  • The Study of Dreams
  • The Art of Soul Work
  • Writing, Writing, & Writing
  • The Importance of Story
  • The Essentials of Nutrition (so everyone will stay healthy to do the rest of the classes)
And I'm certain other necessary classes would reveal themselves in time.

My husband and I are in northern Minnesota and while traveling to Lake Itasca, to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, we came across this abandoned town, Emmaville. A charming intersection, with an old school, a combination cafe/gas station, a car wash, and a few old houses. The town originated as a logging village in the 1800s, from what the locals tell. Revivals have been sporadic, with energetic and creative entrepreneurs trying to make a go of the store off and on over the years. But now the town is for sale. I am thinking it is the perfect setting for a story . . . a woman is running away from something . . . she decides to rent this old building and live here as inconspicuously as possible. Who is she? What has happened in her life? Hmmmm. . . .

Thoughts on the great memoir, Lit, by Mary Karr

I found the pages of Mary Karr's memoir wildly funny, some passages causing me to laugh out loud. But her truths are at the same time uncomfortably sad and somehow familiar. Will I ever be able to tell my own truths in such metaphoric accuracy?

Karr's memory of her father is bittersweet, even to me and I didn't even know him. Her descriptions of his strange sayings recall my own mother's voice repeating the same phrases over and over again: You look like a refugee. I'm just telling it like it is. She don't have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of. I guess if she said stick your head in the oven you'd do that too.

Each person has his or her own story. All the joys and heartaches - but most of the time we only want to world to know the joys, like a Christmas letter telling about junior's athletic prowess and sister's love of baton twirling and so on. But what are the real truths beneath what we shout to the world? Are we giving our truths to the world? And what are they?

Our Golden Shadow is composed of our good things that we deny or hide from the world. We are usually quick to admit our shortcomings, but slow to accept praise. We need to listen when someone tells us we have done something well. Enhance your own truths and talents. Develop your natural gifts, and find your joy. What is your passion? What do you love to do when the time seems to zip by, and 2, 4, or 6 hours later you look up and say to yourself where did the time go?

Mary Kitt re-discovered her golden shadow, and has presented it to the world. She is fearless.

Friday, July 2, 2010

River Town.

One evening this week my husband Robert and I rode down to the greenway on Mud Island and parked, got a good coffee from Lil Eclectic, and walked a bit. We do this often. The breezes were comfortable, blowing away the mosquitoes. Joggers, walkers, bikers of all ages and colors enjoyed the early evening, as starlings darted overhead and a tugboat blasted a long whistle as it set the course for its cargo toward New Orleans. The green of the expanse along the Mississippi, and the friendliness of the others along the walkway made for a pleasant evening. Several couples sat on blankets, faces aimed toward the lavender and coral sunset over Arkansas. This is one of the places we love about Memphis.

Every day in the local newspaper, and on the TV news, we hear about negative images, and many are serious enough to warrant a worried populace: death, violence, poverty, unemployment, economic uncertainly, and on and on. And I certainly share in the concern about personal and community grief and disasters. But at least we have a little bit of solace. Sometimes we need to look for it. And get out in it for a while. Fresh air. A walk along the river does wonders for the soul.