What a moment, what an era we're living through. It's a lot, no? These days, I'm pulled in as many directions as ever: mom, digital comms director, spouse, household Clorox wipes chief, mask-bedazzler. Why --and, crucially, how-- would I add more to the list?
There's a good reason. As full as the must-do task list is, there's yet another list I have. On the list are the things I want to do, I want to pay attention to, I want to explore. In other words, not the tasks that need to be done for others, but the opportunities I see to fill the hollows and hideouts of my own soul. I imagine myself hiking; reading a book with a stack of books next to me and no time by which I'll stop reading; cooking and eating; and (this is where I start to glow) writing.
Sometimes just making that list for yourself and acknowledging the truth of its existence feels like some kind of victory.
So, I am taking a moment here for gratitude to affirm for myself that I have a practice of writing, a habit of writing, and that every moment spent writing is a moment I get to know myself better. At the same time, every moment I spend inside this art form, I develop a gift that’s not just for myself but for the world. I remember that writing only seems solitary in the moment; the truth of writing is that it’s an act of solidarity and relationship-building with a reader.
That relationship-building, community-building is an act of courage. It takes courage to believe in my own voice. It takes courage, and no small bit of faith, to believe I can build community with words as my tools. But it’s true. If it weren’t, dictators around the world wouldn’t work so hard to censor writers, to destroy books, to prevent children from learning to read.
Writing our truths is not only healing, then, and not only relationship-building. Writing has the power to be revolutionary. Personal writing that’s rooted in an understanding of the context of our community and our country and this era we’re living through is writing that can change the world.
And of course, we don’t have to write to save others' lives. We can write to save ourselves. We can journal to reveal ourselves to ourselves. We can write for the fun of knowing ourselves better. We can write for the thrill of revealing ourselves to each other more. We can write for no reason at all. That’s the freedom of this practice; there doesn’t have to be a goal, an endpoint, a product. Committing to the practice is itself powerful. Practice is itself the goal.