Saturday, February 16, 2019

Loosening the Reins

This is the time of year when I inevitably assess whether I am going to maintain this blog. I suppose it is a form of writer’s block that strikes with the regularity of a winter cold. This year feels particularly significant as I began the blog in 2009 so have completed ten years and over 400 blog posts. Who knew I had so much to say? 

 While many blogs seek to have one theme to find their audience, I have to confess that one theme would bore me. As my life is multi-faceted, so is this blog. If one topic doesn’t interest you, hopefully another will. Over the past decade I have traced my travels through 13 countries and reported on 140 of my favorite books. I introduced you to my artwork, my various projects, my genealogy research and my exploration of my Jewish heritage. I’ve explored my life as I redesigned it post-career, dealt with aging parents, their ultimate loss and the reframing of my world in their absence. Just when I think I’ve said everything I have to say, the world tilts and new things appear on the horizon.

This blog began with six weeks in Eastern Europe where I went to study Yiddish. I wrote every day thinking it would be a travel journal as I explored the language of my ancestors and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. I had done a travel journal before when we spent a month in China, but it wasn’t public. This was my first time putting it before a wider audience and I was a bit shy about it. You know the phrase “dance like nobody’s watching?” Well I was writing like nobody’s reading. I must confess that I’ve often been surprised when people know unexpected details about my life because I forgot people were reading.

When I came home from Eastern Europe, I realized that I really loved the thoughtfulness that regular writing engenders. It deepened my experience. To cease writing would have left a hole in my life.

I remember reading a book by Barbara Kingsolver years ago. One of her characters in her internal dialogue beautifully captured a thought of mine. It was an odd moment of recognition, of being understood by someone who didn’t know me, yet expressed what was apparently a shared thought, that I had until that moment thought was unique to me. When I write, I hope that I will strike that chord in someone else.

When I first started doing life drawing, I began going to several drawing coops each week. It changed the way I saw the world. If we were speaking together, you might have wondered about how intently I seemed to be watching you. I was mentally drawing you, studying the shadows and lines, the nuances that made you who you were. When  I no longer went to the drawing co-op, that way of seeing receded. Writing regularly is a bit like that too. In the normal course of our days we observe small details that make us think, passing thoughts that might spark curiosity and a desire to contemplate them further. If we don’t write, they slip away into our busy lives. Writing causes us to dig a little deeper, to explore the underlying meaning and maybe have an insight that draws the world into greater clarity.

Up until last year I had been very disciplined about writing, targeting four blogs a month. Then I consciously abandoned some of my discipline and cut that in half to make room for other things in my life. I think we all need to learn different things in life and usually it is the opposite of what we know. As a highly disciplined person, at least in some spheres of my life, I half-jokingly called it laziness and sloth. In truth, I do need to loosen the reins. I’m still finding this new rhythm and balance, the necessary intensity to see the world differently yet make room for other things within my life.  I know if I said I’m closing it down, the next week I’d have some fabulous insight I’d want to share. So, you’ll continue to see this blog periodically when the spirit moves me. I hope you’ll stay tuned.