It’s the end of the year. I’m taking stock. It’s ten-thirty in the morning and I’m still in my sweats and a T-shirt. My hair is uncombed and yesterday’s lipstick is wearing thin. I’m sitting at my computer, typing, deleting, typing deleting.
You may or may not know that I’m writing a book. It’s about climate change and it’s about love. It’s about how big crises and disasters, in addition to turning our worlds upside down and breaking us apart, can also make us stronger, open our hearts and make us more generous and compassionate. It’s about how disasters can shake us awake and make our lives vibrant and immediate.
It is not an easy story to tell. Because in order for me to tell it, I have to live it. Most days I’d just as soon hug myself to something certain and predictable than throw myself out beyond gravity to see what happens.
I’ve been writing this book for two and a half years and last month I put the manuscript on the bottom shelf of my computer and started all over. The book is about to become way more personal, vulnerable and raw.
That scares me. I’m not at all sure I have what it takes to tell the story. I feel like I’m riding a rogue wave into the new year, grabbing at water. The story is there, it’s living inside my body. I can feel it quickening. But right now, it has no form, only an intangible something struggling to coalesce. All those who have gone before me say, keep writing. It will emerge. Keep writing.
When I look over at my couch and think this might be a good time to take a nap, I remind myself why I am doing this. I have a mantra that goes something like this. The details of my story belong to me. My height and weight, the color of my skin, the town I grew up in. But the feelings, the fear, shame, courage, anger, compassion, they belong to all of us. That is what makes us all human, together. When I speak up, in spite of my wobbly voice and fast beating heart, my hope is that you will recognize yourself, your wobbly voice and your fast beating heart and that you will speak up too.
It’s the end of the year and I’m about to take a leap from a high dive. I’m afraid of heights and I’m not a very good swimmer. But when I turn around to look behind me, I see the stairs are gone.
May the New Year bless you with courage, compassion and commitment.