“In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now.”
― Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
I joined an Artist’s Way group several weeks ago. I also joined an accountability writing group of memoirists. Between these two groups, I am making progress on my novel, which integrates fiction and personal stories. Through writing my stories, I revisit angst-producing times of my past: The time of my divorce with a five-year-old and a two-year-old; the time of my daughter’s carjacking and attempted rape; the first flight with my son at the controls of a Cessna no bigger than a bathtub; and today, crowds. If there is one thing I have absolutely learned in my lifetime, though, it is that I will not live in fear. I will live in the moment and become at peace.
I will admit flying with my son for the first time ever those many years ago that with every bump and turn I was white-knuckled and clutching the armrest or seat cushion or anything I could find. All right. I know. Not peaceful and not in the now for sure. But panic was the only emotional tool I had at the time. Understandably, right? After all, I had just (eighteen years earlier) diapered his behind; and, then, all of a sudden, I found myself dependent on his skill at ten thousand feet. By the time my daughter was kidnapped, my emotional tools had broadened. After her phone call in the middle of the night, I sang to myself, the only song I could remember at the time: “Let There be Peace on Earth.” It soothed my shattered nerves while driving to her location. And last week as I flew to Florida (a pandemic hot-spot) again in two months, I meditated on the now. Being in the now, not in the past, nor in the future, I was at peace at thirty-seven thousand feet in spite of still being afraid of flying. I was aware that my peace tools had broadened and deepened once more.
Neither fear of flying nor pandemic will keep me on the ground or from going where I want to go. I live in the now where I am healthy and at peace, while taking every precaution to protect myself and others. Just like I fasten my seat belt in the back seat of a car to prevent myself from becoming an unlikely but deadly projectile to those in the front, I wear a mask to prevent the spreading of Covid-19 even though I am healthy. Please wear your mask when in public.
Next week, we will continue with “Personal Story-Writing 101,” and I will tell you the story of my daughter’s abduction—and, yes, her safe return. In the weeks to come, I will tell you about my first flight with my son. And, yes, our safe return.
In the meantime, keep writing your stories, your thoughts, your feelings, your values, your beliefs. I would love to hear from you!