Tuesday, September 11, 2001
I woke up with good intentions today. I had set aside today to write an article about how writing can be used as a powerful therapeutic tool – how it can help us move from pain to catharsis. It’s something I know well. I’ve been using it to help me work things out since I was given my first diary at age 11. Over four decades ago, journaling wasn’t in vogue like it is today, so I learned of its value through usage. Also, I have been eyewitness to the many transformations borne out of this medium through facilitating creative/cathartic writing groups for over ten years. I also frequently use it as a relevant tool with my psychotherapy clients. It’s a subject I know well and feel confident to write about. Not today.
Instead I have spent this day like thousands of others – in shock. I woke early this morning – day eleven on my newly acquired piece of paradise – a cottage set in the spacious woods of Bowen Island , and overlooking the gulf islands, mountains and ocean. In these several days I have seen eagles flying gracefully over my house, herons resting on my dock; earlier today, a hummingbird came to visit my hanging geranium and a bluebird began singing to me from the fir tree next to my bedroom window. And from this peace and paradise, still I woke with a heavy heart. I wasn’t sure of its origin but knew I needed to connect with someone. Someone very close to me. I called my friend Dale who instantly and sensitively revealed to me what was going on in the world. I let the tears flow as she described the gruesome details. The very next thing I did was e-mail my partner, who just a week ago, flew to Korea , to take a contract there. I needed to tell him of my horror and how grateful I am that he has safely landed and is not on a plane en route. I spent the rest of the day in silent prayer, grief, fury and questioning God, why. Why? But I haven’t heard any answers. And so I never came to the computer to write this article, which has a near deadline, and I’m not writing it now – at least the way I thought I would. Instead I do what I do when I need to release. I write what is there in front of me – I simply tell the truth…
I was on my dock a little while ago. I took a candle and the meditation prayer that was e-mailed to me earlier by the people who put on the Prophet’s Conference. They asked that we join them in a unified prayer – to pray for those who passed-on, for their families and friends, and for us all upon earth. Also to pray for those who orchestrated this event, so that they are filled with peace instead of fear and anger. And to pray for the politicians – that they act from divine wisdom and not revenge. This is a time to move away from blame and seek to understand cause. Caesar, my black cat and the most affectionate and wise creature I have ever known, followed me down to the dock to bring his energy into the fold. Together we mediated for world peace.
I don’t think I wanted to blame. I wanted to help – to make a contribution to the lives of those who are suffering. Here I am in this incredible God given sanctuary while at the very same time, thousands of people have just died, perhaps are still dying – being buried under rubble and thousands of families and friends of these people are in grief and disbelief. I remembered years ago during the Gulf War how isolated I felt – how alone while watching television from my living room and seeing spuds flying through the air ready to land on who knows what target. A decade earlier I had spent the year in Israel , arriving there during the Yom Kippur War. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to do something now, today. I called people to hold a vigil at my house at sundown. They will arrive shortly. Perhaps our unified prayers will help. They will help me, I know.
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
I have just returned home from Xenia where I sat in silent meditation for an hour in their blessed sanctuary. How fortunate to be living where I am – among conscious people who have already prepared the way for so many of us…a special place infused with loving prayers and healing energy and I have had the privilege to add my own to it on many occasion. Never before with such a heavy heart .
And here in this sanctuary filtered images of family members with whom I still hold resentments and anger and I remembered Mother Theresa’s words. She said she decided to do the work she does when she realized there was a little Hitler that resided inside of her. I prayed for guidance to let go of all the ‘stuff’ I am still holding onto. The places where I know I am right and want them to know it too. And another popular phrase runs through my mind… ‘Would I rather be right, or would I rather be happy?” Well being right has certainly not made me a winner. My righteous indignation has only served to keep me separate and fearful. Again I whispered a prayer for God to help me forgive them, release and let it all go. Now. And the answer came with the sense of peace and love that flooded through me…and I drove home with added breath.
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
A week has passed since I originally came to my computer to write about writing. I have been unable to until now. I have been involved with my world – walking around numb, anxious, strong, vulnerable, and above all, once again grateful to feel – to be alive. I have been the recipient of dozens of e-mails sent by spiritual leaders. Each of their messages hold the same Divine Truth – we must elevate our energy to our highest self at this time – and not be seduced into fear.
And these writings and my own journal have once again, served as my best friend. Lee and I are 15 hours apart and thousands of miles away and we can’t speak in real time very often. My journal is there right now, when I need it – a constant and reliable companion. It plays witness to my tears, remorse, anguish, uncertainly, and to my gratitude. It has seen it all. It judges nothing. How does it work? It works because I tell the truth. It works because I release what needs expression.
Sometimes I think it’s too simple. But then I realize that’s exactly why it’s so powerful. Writing from where we are right now puts us in the state of being authentic, which frees the energy to move. It is liberating to express ourselves. It is a letting go process that allows us to breathe ourselves back home.
As we spill onto the pages what is pertinent in the moment, neither embellishing, nor denying, simply stating it the way it is, we free ourselves from confusion and false voices. We may be flooded with emotion as we impart our truth onto the page – sadness, grief, rage, excitement, love, joy. Allow it all to unfold, to gently come forth. Don’t force it – it’s there. You needn’t strive – it’s there. Just allow the words to come. Don’t judge. Don’t go into your head and say this sounds too awful, this doesn’t make sense, what if someone sees it; just write. Edit later if you must. But for now, just be kind to yourself and do not stop the flow. Do it that way and you’ll be astounded by the results. It’s the energy of now that carries the might. Even when you’re writing about something that happened twenty years ago – it’s your relationship to it at this very moment that matters. And your writing will show you what matters even when you yourself are not sure because the truth will always emerge as you ask your ego to step out of the way.
These are some of the discoveries I made when I was a small girl growing up. My diary was my safe haven when I felt alone and afraid. As I began to spill my heart onto the pages, I would inevitably feel better. Sometimes immediately afterward I might feel drained, exhausted, spent. Other times I would be energized, excited, and free. The constant factor was that within a short time of writing, I always had more clarity about my situation and felt much stronger and safer because of it. It was though an unseen presence was watching over me as I told the truth –as I shared what was deep in my heart. It wasn’t unusual for a sense of peacefulness to wash over me as new insights would emerge onto the page. In time I came to believe the pages were almost alive – that every time I came to them a sacred unseen companion was waiting patiently to guide my hand and hold my hand in the process.
Will writing a journal do this for you? I don’t know. But there’s a very good chance of it and you won’t know until you make space for it in your life.
I believe each of us needs a private place where we can express ourselves without censorship, without judgment, without someone telling us it’s wrong, impolite, unforgiving or anything else. Each of us needs somewhere to state how we feel at any given moment and know it’s completely safe to do so. And to express the written word without fear of doing it wrong – a place to put all the old grammar books away. It doesn’t matter if you have unfinished sentences; it doesn’t matter where you start or where you finish. It doesn’t even have to be polite or appropriate. It doesn’t mater if you doodle in between your pages or say the same thing over fifty times. The beauty of journal writing is there are no rules. You can make all the spelling mistakes you want because in this kind of writing there are no mistakes. When there’s no right or wrong you can’t make a mistake.
Still the most common element I have seen over the years in my writing classes is the lack of confidence people have in themselves. Their fear of doing it wrong and saying it wrong surfaces again and again. They qualify their writing – “well, I was tired, so I don’t really think it’s very good” – “I was confused and…” or “I had a terrible day today and…” Then they are encouraged to read it anyway, and are often astounded by what they wrote. So if you find yourself criticizing yourself, don’t get discouraged. It’s normal. Just keeps your pen moving across the page. Eventually you won’t care if its good or bad, right or wrong, you will just write. You will stop being attached to the outcome. You simply write. And that’s when it becomes a meditation. That’s when it becomes a way of life. That’s when it becomes as natural as getting up and brushing your teeth. And when writing is that for you, you will notice a shift in your life. You will notice that things are working out better. You will observe that the voice on the page becomes your voice in the world. Even if you change your mind about what you say a few days later and a new truth emerges, that’s okay. In fact, that’s what happens when we write from our authenticity. The truth sets us free. We move the energy around instead of staying stuck in it. We find a healthier, newer way to relate to the situation. Clarity emerges. Life energy emerges. Strength, confidence and self-love emerges and as you continue to write, you will begin to achieve things that you never thought possible. Your journals can and will be the starting off point to poems, plays, song lyrics whatever. But mostly you will have your voice. And that – is worth every word.