Friday, December 11, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Writing Ourselves Free

"Words do not label things already there. Words are like the knife of a carver: They free the idea, the thing, from the general formlessness of the outside. As a man speaks, not only is his language in a state of birth, but also the very thing about which he is talking." ~ Inuit Wisdom

Today I finished up the book The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, and the Inuit quote above kicks off one of the last chapters. So many of her ideas about money helped me to reconsider the role of money in my life, both when I was very young and had no money and now when I have a well paying job. Her words helped me to see money as just another form of energy which we can utilize to shape the world around us. In her words I was able to make peace with finance, a difficult thing to do in our consumer-driven, debt-ridden culture.

Words are powerful tools not just for communicating ideas, but also to form them. So often I come to a blank screen on my computer, unsure of what I'll write or where my writing will lead. Over time, I've learned to trust the process of writing the way that a carver trusts his knife. In my imagination there is always a story waiting to be told, similar to the figure that is within a slate of marble. The skill of the writer or artist releases the form.

I'm now weeks away from meeting my goal of writing about hope every day for a year. I started this journey as someone who felt let down by the world, someone who was worried about her future. Now that I have spent nearly 365 days actively seeking out what's hopeful in our society, I am emerging from my quest with a confident, revitalized soul. I wrote myself free form the burden of worry.

So often we think a lack of commitments frees us. We give up relationships, jobs, materials goods, and tasks in pursuit of greater flexibility and freedom. And sometimes that works. Though before I give up anything or anyone, I remind myself of Willa Cather's quote in O Pioneers! - "Freedom so often means that one isn't needed anywhere." I want my freedom to mean that I choose to do everything in my life, not that I am forced to do something which I don't want to do. My writing frees me because it lets me express what I'm feeling, and gives me the opportunity to connect with others. I've found that my connections to others frees my own heart rather than binding it up.

I found my writing voice not by closing down and shutting off, but by opening up to the experiences of the world and making the commitment to come here to this blog every day and share those experiences. I became a better writer by committing to the craft. I think life is shockingly similar to writing in this way - we live it better by practicing, by stepping out and stepping up, by committing our heart to others and to the world around us. And as we do this, I hope we'll all take some time and write it all down. Having the courage to tell others our own stories ironically frees them to do the same.

The photo above is not my own. It can be found here.

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