I walked into a lovely home filled with chattering women. The kettle whistled on the stove, and the table in another room practically groaned under the weight of finger sandwiches and decadent pastries.
We were celebrating another generation, Smith College style.
Those were the days. The women of Smith College's Morris House gather for a photo in the room we always had tea. I'm in the front row. Can you find me?
Every year, just before nervous high school seniors need to make their final college decisions, active Smith clubs around the country hold teas for accepted students, inviting alumnae from the area to come and encourage these young women who might still be undecided, or reinforce the “rightness” of their choice.
This is the first Smith alumnae event I have attended in a while, and I found myself in a surreal reality of my own making. I went because I need to meet more people in the area. I went because I need to begin to network better. I went because I believe that my Smith education was indeed a great one (even though there are some things I would change). I went because I yearn to connect (in person) with intelligent women who support each others goals.
I found all that there.
But, I also suddenly faced the fact that I have been out of college for a really long time. Except for two much older women (who I believe graduated in the late 50s or 60s) I was one of the oldest alumnae there. I was also one of the only newbies to the alumnae group, so of course everyone asked for my story. Everyone wanted to know what I do. Everyone was interested in why I had moved to this part of Massachusetts.
Anyone who has been following my blog for any time knows that I cannot answer any of those questions easily.
I found myself floundering. Am I theatre artist? Am I an educator? Am I a writer? Am I a stay at home Mom?
With the accepted students, I was okay, sharing memories of Smith days past or able to makes some suggestions based on my experience teaching first year students. I am a good mentor, I know that.
But, discussing my life with alumnae left me sputtering like a slowly deflating balloon.
I woke up this morning asking myself WHY?
- Why am I so afraid to say I am a writer, and that I am actually writing books?
- Why do I only associate success with a paycheck?
- Why do I dismiss all of the really cool things I’ve done in my life as meaningless because I don’t have a current title, or the home I expected, or the life I thought I would?
- Why do I find it so hard to trust myself?
- Why do I doubt myself so much?
- Why can’t I accept that I am a talented, intelligent, creative individual that has a lot to offer this world, even if I haven’t figured out the method of that offering yet?
As often happens, subtle messages from the universe began to creep into my consciousness in answer to my questions. Or maybe I began looking for answers and interpreting the world around me in terms of my questions. I can’t be sure.
Whichever it is, as I sat in my local coffee shop inhaling a late breakfast (after having to do a fasting blood test this morning) and staring at my computer screen, the universe began speaking.
First I noticed a Facebook post from a very spiritual person that I follow of a song that I have always loved. I smiled when I saw it, but being in a public place without earphones, I didn’t click the video. However, as you will see, it plays a role in me even writing this post.
Stay tuned . . .
Some of the messages, as they so often do, came from the wonderful source of inspiration that is found in the blogosphere. Comments made on my recent posts about fighting inner enemies and the line between success and failure made me think about how many supportive people exist in this universe, despite the fact that I have had the dubious joy of meeting with so many truly selfish people in recent years. Those people lie behind some of my why questions. But, the supportive and insightful comments I have received recently made me ask new whys:
- Why have I given those people so much power over who I am now?
- Why can’t I move beyond the hurt and prove that I am worthy?
Then, I read 4AMWriter’s post about how being creative, especially writing, helps ground her in this post called “Replenishing is Drinking.” Reading her post made me realize that I thrive in creative projects. The more projects I have that I believe in, the more balls I can keep juggling in the air. I do not thrive in sameness, in mundane day to day tasks that seem to have no purpose beyond keeping me busy. I work best solving problems, facing challenges, and working on projects that somehow make a difference. Perhaps, I realized, I don’t see my WIPs as making a difference, in a world full of people striving to become writers and striving to publish.
I sat and sipped my tea, thinking about why I want to write these stories, and if they do have purpose. The answer is yes. Both stories share, through fictionalized worlds, my questioning of certain social issues that make me fearful for the future of our world. Whether or not these stories ever get seen in a broader sense, they are the stories I need to write to find my path through these issues that bother me so much.
I began to write. I began to explore one of the characters that I need to understand in order to move a story forward. I wrote for two hours, that seemed like minutes. I wrote almost 800 words, that seemed like volumes.
Then I started on this post.
Of course, the universe has a sense of humor, and my computer battery began to die. So, I deserted the post and headed into the gray rainy day to return home.
When we all leave the house, we leave the radio on for the dogs, as that helps them (sometimes) from their more mischievous instincts. When the music doesn’t play, chaos reins.
The first song I heard as I got settled at home was the same song I saw on Facebook this morning. A song which always reminded me that life is magical, as long as you remember to dance.
So my friends, I know that my life will always be wonderful, as long as I keep dancing, keep dreaming, and keep having warm cups of tea. I don’t have to have all the answers right now, I just have to keep asking questions.
That’s a pretty good thing to know.
I barely get this post posted when another message from the blogosphere reaches my mailbox. Please read “How to Build Strong Foundations Underneath Your Dreams”, a post that speaks the truth.