Did you every try to advocate for someone or something--or yourself--and get so angry and frustrated you ended up acting in a way you wish you hadn't? Why did you struggle to right what you saw (see) as a wrong? How might you have handled it differently? How might you have been more effective? How might you have found more serenity with the outcome? How did you keep the energy flowing meeting obstacle after obstacle?
I'm really interested in this prompt myself. After thinking about it for a day or so, and working on other writing, the answer came. That it took me a couple of days to be able to write about it is meaningful in itself.
My heart races. I pace. I want to email and phone everyone I know to tell them about the travesties I've just observed, and how I could fix them, given a chance. Texting and emailing sometimes also work but are much less satisfying. Facebook and Twitter should be shut off at moments like this.
I've worked hard on not getting obsessed to that point, but I can still go from zero to sixty and work up a pretty loud and lengthy rant, complete with exquisite detail and gorgeous, eloquent passion. What friend of mine, or complete stranger, for that matter, wouldn't want to listen, right?
In fact, I'm that ten-year-old stomping her feet because she just knows the world will be better place if she has a puppy, and her mom disagrees. I'm not fixing a damn thing, and I just might break something fragile, like another person's equilibrium.
Let me give myself some credit--I have grown up a little. Although I still do feel for homeless puppies, I now get my most worked up trying to change things for other human beings less privileged than myself, which is a tough charge, because although I live a modest life, there are million and millions of people living in much worse conditions than I do in my white American world.
Neither do I suffer from the delusion that if I were to run the world, there would be an end to starvation and the start of world peace. But I have my own bias--that my truths are more certifiable than the truths of others. And that's how I start looking certifiable myself.
Yep, before I know it, I'm standing on a corner handing pamphlets about the impending apocalypse to passers-by who then wish they'd taken the bus.
I seriously need to stop and take a breath, knowing that the earth won't stop revolving in the next few hours.
Then, I need to remember who I am. I'm a writer. I deal in fictions, and probably, my so-called truths are just as fictional as other people's narratives. I need to put my story in words that appear on a screen or a page, and never, never hit send until the following day--if then.
Hemingway believed in Truth and most Religious Folk preach it.
I actually believe in many truths. It's just easy to forget that before I start sounding like an evangelical. "You too can be saved! Come hear The Way!"
The beauty of writing is that through the process, I learn what I didn't know I don't know. And if I'm dedicated to exploring through narrative, I most often locate a whirlpool of new ideas that ironically spins me into a more organized me.
Words and stories are magical that way.
Then and only then can I stop demanding a puppy and find empathy for those with other realities, like my mom, who had to pay for the vet bills.
I am still a child, and like children, I am so not in charge, but when I write out my thoughts, I am at least somewhat closer to being an adult. Not that we so-called grown ups are in charge of much either. And therein lies the real secret that helps.
None of us is in charge.
I am only one of the many practically drowning in rushing waters and hanging onto the only branch they can grab--their truth of the day.
When I know that, I can take myself one step closer to peace, and recapture the one truism that is my branch in the swirling waters: Peace within is the only way toward peace without.