Do you ever find yourself lacking inspiration?
Here is where I face the fear that I cannot write anymore, simply because I have not written in years. My new love (who is really only a new love relative to the last love) calls me a writer. He sees me as I would hope to be seen by my partner, but I am fearful that I do not deserve to be called a writer, even if it is only me who is listening when he says it. Words are too important to me to be taken lightly. That is why I have danced around the idea of a new blog for years, and it is only an old friend (who is really a sister) who has nudged me toward it now.
I used to be a blogger. I don’t remember ever having difficulty finding inspiration. I found it pretty easy to write, partly because I was in the habit of writing, but mostly because I was in love. I was head over heart in deep, and I knew it. I wanted—no needed—to share it. I felt all the woozy bliss that comes with infatuation, the giddy yet sharp focus a new commitment brings, and the strong desire—no, need— to flaunt my feelings and demand the world attend to the object of my affection. She had captured me entirely, and I was sure that my new daughter (I’ll call her Free) would capture everyone else in the same way. With her conception, my whole life had opened up.
And so it goes with any great love.
Somehow, my blog fell away over time. I count it as successful, but life was busy and ever evolving. I worked, I parented, and I moved through the cycles of many seasons. I watched Free grow and blossom. I gave up my doomed reach for a PhD, settled into a high school teaching job, and (mostly) made peace with a changing career landscape. I made the no-going-back decision to leave my marriage. I figured out how to make a home and a life on my own. I lost old friends; I found new ones. I counted on the ones who could be counted on. I rediscovered some of my real limits and strengths, and I wrestled with my spirit.
I fell in love again. It was not a perfect situation, but I could no more turn away from this man than I could turn a tide. I knew I was lucky to find love again, and I let it wash over me as much as it wanted. I am not a risk-taker, but I went all in on this one. In truth, I ran toward the chance to be in love again. I knew it could all fade if one of us gave up—if we convinced ourselves that the sludge of our baggage was too heavy or if we stopped believing in possibility.
Ours is a great love: one that is full of passion and requires patience. So here, in the aftermath of that finding, in the settling in and sweeping state where cobwebs again have a chance to grow and sparkle in the light, is the space where I want to try to write again. My girl Free is 8 now. She and I are adjusting to living in our new home with my partner (I’ll call him Newman), and I have vowed to try to find peace for myself, for him, and for her. I am also vowing to find inspiration, so that I can share it as a mother (and a partner and a teacher and a sister and a daughter and a friend…)
To cut to the chase then, here is something that has inspired me this week. I watched “The Hobbit” and loved it. The downside is that there is only one female character, and she doesn’t show up much, and she’s not even in the original book. I was not surprised that the most memorable scene for me was her scene: the one in which Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) asks Gandalf why he chose to bring a hobbit with him on an epic journey. Gandalf replies that while some believe that evil can be checked through great power, he has found that the small things are most effective in stemming the dark tide. (He said it much better. Go see the movie.)
I found myself weeping during the scene, remembering the conversation I had to have with Free after the Newtown school shootings. Free’s father and I had managed to keep the news from her all weekend, only to have her be told the news by a well-meaning teacher who addressed her students upon their return to school. My little girl was the only child in the class who had no idea what the teacher was talking about, and when I picked her up after school, she wanted to know what had happened. I had to tell her. It was a careful, tender conversation. I told her as little as I could. I told her she was safe, that it was mine and her daddy’s first and most important job to keep her safe, and we would never let her be somewhere where we didn’t think she was safe.
She asked if children were killed. I told her they were. She asked why grownups didn’t take away all the guns and stop making them. I told her I didn’t know, and that if I could have it my way, we would. She was quiet for a while. Then, she started sobbing, and she asked me what she should do if she didn’t feel safe. I did what I could. I held her; I reassured her. But I knew that she knew that there was evil in the world that, sometimes, could not be stopped.
What helped me get through that conversation is knowing that what Gandalf tells Galadriel is true. Newtown proved that every parent’s worst nightmare is possible. We have to live in a world where that kind of thing happens—and not just once. The only thing that can help us get up and keep moving through life is knowing that for every one killer with a gun, there are hundreds, thousands, millions of individuals who mourn and reach out to help and hold their children tighter and work to make the light outweigh the dark. My job as parent is to help my daughter to pay attention to them: the helpers, the good guys.
And so, if 2012 was the year in which I had to have that conversation with my daughter, let 2013 be the year in which I multiply the ways I can inspire her with love and laughter and light.
My goal for myself this year is to strive for peace in my life. Oh, I have the usual laundry list of resolutions that most of us have. I want to write more. Exercise more. Cook more. Read more. Shop less. I’d like to be more patient.
Those things and all the innumerable others add up to me taking better care of myself and by extension, those who are close to me. I want to find inspiration by taking note of the goodness in the world, appreciating the little gifts that are everywhere. I want to nurture my spirit and follow it when it tells me what to do to make this world better. I believe that in shifting my perspective from the big vision to the little, I will find more peace. My part of this blog will be about small things: the daily things that present themselves to me and what I choose to notice and attend to. I hope to find inspiration, and I commit to sharing it through my writing.