A few years ago I tired of writing. I had done it for decades, mostly for others. I took early retirement in the hopes of tapping into the creative, heartfelt and sacred space of my words. Life intervened with some personal matters and I wasn’t able to fully involve myself in this type of writing.
The post below shares what I had hoped to do. I wrote it one frigid winter morning and sent it to a few publications. But it was rejected, which is much of a writer’s life.
So I am sharing it now on my blog. It is a story about my writing. But it is also a story about courage and bliss, however they may touch your lives. May you find what you need in these words.
I am sitting at my computer glancing at the saying pinned on my bulletin board.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt said those words. I’m not sure when or in what context, but they still rattle my soul, take my breath away like stepping into a frigid wind.
Outside my window the trees are barren, a sky smudged with the pinks and grays of early dawn. A bird twitters, loudly breaking the silence. It is being true to its nature. It is not afraid to sing. I sigh and tell myself that I must “do the thing I think I cannot do.”
After writing all my life for publications and organizations and now, well past mid-life, I must accept writing’s invitation to a deeper relationship. I must write these words.
As I write I ask myself, why am I so fearful? And what is my worst fear? I think it is twofold. The first is sharing my soul. In the past, I have hidden behind the words of others in the pieces I have written. To write from my heart means exposure, revealing the flesh-and-blood of who I am.
But then, I comfort myself with the words of spiritual teacher/author Marianne Williamson who said:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Williamson goes on to say that we do not serve the world by playing small. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around us. In other words, she is telling us that we all need to step forward and claim our gifts in ways that may make us uncomfortable.
Which leads to my second fear. Dying without fulfilling my potential. This fear, I believe, is universal, especially as we plunge headlong into our 50s and 60s. We do not want to leave this planet without following what educator and mythic storyteller Joseph Campbell called our “bliss.”
Following our bliss takes that courage of Eleanor’s words. For me, writing has not always been my bliss. It’s simply paid the bills. My words have been printed for years and informed the public about countless issues.
But they have not always healed. Perhaps in some cases, but for the most part they have been the humdrum drivel of print. I have not done what Eleanor said at another time and place:
“No writing has any real value which is not the expression of genuine thought and feeling.”
Writing must now come my heart. In my early 60s, I no longer want to sink into the abyss of my many false selves, but into the depth of my spirit and write from that sacred space. What I write must be laid bare, exposing the marrow of life. It must be hallowed or it will be hollow. And there is enough hollowness in the world today.
If writing is ever to be my bliss at all, I must summon courage to speak to an even deeper reality. I want to give the gift of hope, a glimpse into the spiritual and earthly journey we share and I want us all, as Campbell said, to talk about God and not be afraid of that. I want to write words that will open our hearts to love.
“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Lofty goals? Perhaps. But if we are not loving, who are we? If we are not living our bliss, what then?
So I look at Eleanor’s words once more and take a deep breath. I type. And the birdsong gentle caresses me forward.