Let us be honest: these are not easy times. Between the pressure of climate disruption and the disarray of our political systems, it can be hard to “align the personal, political and planetary” and come out with any sense of balance.
When I am feeling out of balance or confused, I take to the blank page. Not looking for answers so much as seeking to burrow down through writing into the questions, seeking to find the kernel of wisdom that will inevitably be curled there, like a sprout in a seed, waiting for the warm rains to come before it pokes its nose out of its shell.
Just like all living beings on this planet, we are born with innate wisdom, a built-in, soul-level guidance system that is always there, whether we acknowledge it or not, helping us navigate our lives. When we take the time to connect with this inner taproot of wisdom, we are often gifted with new understandings and seemingly miraculous synchronicities that allow us to shoot through the rapids of our turbulent times with ease.
For me, the contemplative practice of purposeful memoir has become a steady, always-fruitful way of letting my bucket down into that deep inner well of guidance and creativity.
People often ask me what I am writing these days. As usual, I have several projects going, but the two that are most active and dear to my heart have purposeful memoir at their core: an environmental novel that draws on my long experience of the academic world; and an inquiry into how to respond with strength and resilience to the climate crisis, drawing on the pooled wisdom of the purposeful memoirs of a group of remarkable people I call “worldwrights.”
For years, I have been insisting to anyone who will listen that every story matters. Each of us learns so much in our lifetimes, and as generations we stand on the shoulders of those who came before. It’s important to share what we know, to shine the light of our hard-won knowledge on the path for those coming along behind us.
That’s how I describe the work of purposeful memoir. We share our stories in the hope that our story, honestly and powerfully told, will be of benefit to others.
This Solstice season, as I kindle candles and hang garlands of lights, I am conscious of the way we are perched on a tipping point between Light and Dark, not just in the physical, planetary world, but also in the political realm.
The expression “on edge” describes my personal response to this era we’re living through. It’s a Transition Time, as I recognized back in 2011 when I gave my blog that title, and wrote my very first post about feeling like we’re in the transition phase of labor, with a new age of human history on the planet about to be born.
That laboring has only grown more intense as the years have unfolded, with issues like climate disruption and political chaos pushing us to give birth to a new and better way of living on our planet, or face consequences we don’t want to even imagine.
In this season of darkness, I encourage you to give yourself quiet time and space to reach down into yourself and connect with the well of wisdom at your core.
What creative seeds are resting there, just waiting for your loving attention to sprout? What do you need to say, whether in words or in other artistic media, that no one else could possibly express the way you can?
It is important that those of us who are awake to the edginess of our time approach all we do from a perspective of love rather than fear.
This can be a subtle distinction: when I write about my grief for the losses and suffering of our Mother Gaia—forests razed, oceans warming and acidifying, and so many species going down into the night of extinction—I try to write from my great love for Earth and all the familiar creatures who have been my fellow travelers in this lifetime, while also acknowledging, in a profound way, that all things must change.
Earth has gone through radical changes before, and she will again. It is our fate to be the generation alive and awake for this incredible Transition Time. What an opportunity to be part of the changes we would like to see take place! And what a responsibility, to be the generation tasked with midwifing a new world into being.
This Winter Solstice, let us join our hearts and minds in a hymn of Love to Mother Gaia and all her children. Let us hold the Light in these dark times. And if the Spirit moves you, I encourage you to share what’s in your heart, in writing and other art forms.
Creativity is one way we humans have always let our hearts light up the world with love.
With you in spirit,