Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Where Were You Then?

I am working on a book. It is a memoir, of sorts, and it begins some time in 2010. To write a book, one needs an outline. Well, if one is me, one needs an outline. To write an outline, I need to know what my point is, and what I want to use to build that point.

Perhaps I have mentioned that I am not good at getting to the point?

Look! It's a Christmas Unamog! What were we talking about?
Another problem is that I don't have a huge amount of time for writing. There are these little people, and my job is helping them make the world their own, and I take that pretty seriously. Right now they are giggling hysterically in the other room and whenever I go in there they look at me funny, so I figured I would mind my own business and do a little writing. 

The other day, I went for a walk and I took a picture inside this old stump. It's rare to see the inside of a tree this way, with nothing left of its history except the most recent years. I have been alive for all the time that this tree documents. What have I been doing with it?

I gave myself an exercise, to try to find a way to figure out what is supposed to be in this book. I want to give this exercise to you, because it's amazing.

Pick a moment in your past right before a major event in your life. Maybe it is a joyful experience, maybe it is a trauma, maybe it is both. Joy and true happiness are deep, sublime things. They are awesome. They contain darkness, but are triumphant with light. Like the pain of childbirth, the pain and suffering are easy to forget, to diminish in our memory, when we have turned everything to light. While this is wonderful for survival, it can enable us to minimize our own power and experience as easy, manageable, since we have managed it, after all.

Give your past, especially the painful parts, an opportunity to be big and proud. Let the light shine on it. Pick that point, and start a timeline. Be very diligent about keeping it chronological. Go back in time, to each of the moments between then and now, and write whatever comes into your mind. Allow yourself to feel how you felt, to be in your mind before the liminal events, during them, after them. Give all those moments their due. Expand them, explore them, find any grieving, any forgiving, any pleasure, any grace that you have forgotten.

You have everything you need.

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