I write to make sense of things. I use words to give shape to the swirl of feelings and thoughts that occupy my attention. Writing gives me a way to either contain or release that swirl and make meaning of life’s wild ride. It is alternately deeply personal or openly public and, increasingly, a blend of the two.
I write personally about the things that I am struggling with, maybe a sadness or a longing or a stuckness. My habit is to use the darkness of early morning to roam among my own shadows in private communion with my deeper knowing, protected by the soft light of my writing lamp and the point of my pen. As the pages fill, the words slowly gather their meaning and illuminate a new understanding.
If I think of myself as a cartographer, writing is like an expedition and the words like way points on the map of my life. The more I write, the more detailed and useful the map. And, who’s kidding who? Even the world’s most intrepid expedition guides use maps!
I am not always patient as the words work themselves out on the page. Sometimes I just want to know where the trail leads and how to get to there from here, but I am learning to trust the process. I am also learning to cultivate the process. Maps don’t write themselves. They do, however, emerge when we slow down and bring pen to paper, heart to mind, over and over and over.
So, I set alarms. I go to bed. I get up when my body doesn’t always want to. I make it possible to keep exploring.
It is from this very personal sense of location and awareness that I am able to write publicly about the things that I am experiencing or witnessing as a human being and that I think might add to the scope and quality of our collective map. In this sense, I hope that my writing acts as an invitation to others to explore their own inner landscapes and feel the triumph of discovery.
Yes, this means even those of you who swear you can’t write. In fact, especially you. If self-development = self-awareness + self-actualization, then we must start by building conscious awareness of ourselves and by making clear what and how we are called to manifest in the world.
In my experience, both personally and professionally, there is no better way to cultivate self-awareness than by regularly tracking thoughts, feelings and behaviours in writing. It doesn’t have to be eloquent or lyrical. It can be simple point form notes or pictures with words attached.
What it needs to be is regular and intentional.
This means finding the courage to slow down and focus attention inside. It means opening into the space where we can learn to greet ourselves with compassion and love – even the parts that we may have spent a lifetime trying to ignore. From this stance, we can make deeper meaning of our lives and our place among others. And from here, we can spring forward.
So, as we move the clocks ahead this weekend, I encourage you to ride the abundant energy of Spring to develop or deepen your own awareness practice through reflective writing and bring new colour and texture to your own map.
Have fun exploring!