“Stories are compasses and architecture, we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like arctic tundra or sea ice.”
― Rebecca Solnit
I have a confession to make. Although I am fascinated by the topography of maps, the vastness of the world and how much our destinies are decided by place, I lack directional sense. In new and old surroundings (before the instructional navigation on our phones), I printed out directions and checked addresses a few times, but still failed to find the destination without some external help. Some things have changed – I rely heavily on my friend Siri to direct me to new places and am able to quickly arrive at a physical destination – but various periods in my life demonstrate how much my internal compass leans into feeling uncertain and lost – although it might appear differently to the outsider.
Landing in the middle of mourning my father’s passing six years ago created such a struggle I didn’t know where my sadness might seek refuge. After a few months, I decided to let my story unravel on the blank page – not only to memorialize my emotions, but to seek a compass to help cope with the loss of my father.
Today I mark 6 years of writing in this space.
I’ve found so much solace here. I try to honor my truest emotions and some days it is difficult to walk the terrain of vulnerability, but because of this shaky ground, I inch closer to difficult and comforting truths. This blog reminds me to pay attention, to look up and around and to appreciate the vastness of the world I cannot understand. It is a cradle where I choose to rest my head, with the hope that as I honor my stories, I might find direction or purpose and lessen the punch of what I cannot control or what feels wholly uncertain.
I don’t always know where to direct my gaze as I sit down week after week trying to pour parts of my heart on the page, but some days this doesn’t matter. The comfort of routine is sometimes the best companion. The rays of sunlight say hello as I power push the silver button of my computer. I take a breath and look outside at the bright blue sky, the cacti reaching for the sky as the mountains form a scenic backdrop. I sip the warmth of my coffee and take another breath. Sitting down at my desk, I begin. And with every word, I recognize the privilege of being in this moment, alive and able to have the ability to not only think, but to share my thoughts on the page. I understand how this could change in an instant.
The recognition of honoring the pendulum between sorrow and happiness is what I seek to remember everyday in my life. I believe both are worthy of my attention. Sinking into the joy, I find gratitude in sunsets, the laughter of my daughter and the gift of living this ordinary life. It also means recognizing the sadness of all it – knowing one feeling is never permanent – there is an inherent transience in all our emotions.
I am here now. Writing in this space teaches me to appreciate this extraordinary privilege.
Thank you to everyone who chooses to listen to my stories. My sincere gratitude.
Image: Compass by Walt Stonebruner via Flickr