I lie in bed, turning over again and again, sleep no where in sight. With each physical turn of my body I was breathing new life and energy into the thoughts and questions plaguing my mind, peace and sleep stood no chance. One nagging question was the impetus for this mental storm, refusing to subside until I stare at it in the face, see it and address it. So I rolled out of bed, leaving warmth and comfort, at 1:00am determined to do just that, face my question.
Why? How does a three letter word carry so much power? Despite it’s simplicity in structure, that word has the power to bring even the sturdiest of minds to its’ figurative knees. So here I sit, blinking curser daring me to get it down lest I forget. For yes, I do believe I have the answer.
Bare with me as I take you on a bit of a detour as I eventually answer, why?
I can blame a friend for this latest bout of insomnia. He posed the question while sharing a cup of tea and mulling over my latest writing project. He reminded me that without knowing the “why”, my writing journey would be longer and more arduous than necessary. Why writing? For years I have enjoyed words. I would play with them for hours. I love learning new ways to string them together, to tell a story, to convey emotion, and using them to capture the thoughts that would keep me awake for hours. I can still remember toying with rhymes, barely able to write, I would rehearse them for hours until I either fell asleep or give up and succumbed to writing them down. To this day I have a special blue folder filled with random sheets of paper with my scribbles. Now, not being naturally gifted with words, this is something I have to work at. Yet, loving it as I do, I do just that.
My latest writing project began three years ago, writing as a means for answering questions that would arise from my profession as a social worker and early childhood educator. My staff loved it and found it helpful, so I kept at it. I fell into blogging, rather haphazardly, more as a means to an end; a format for meeting a professional need. Yet, I found the process more than moderately satisfying. The challenge lie in answering a question, and doing it in such a way that had my reader nodding their heads and feeling satisfied that they had in fact learned something of value. Even then, I found myself not wholly satisfied after awhile. It was definitely not the writing aspect, though after some tossing and turning and late night writing, I discovered it was the theme of my writing that had me yearning for something more.
As someone who gets an idea and isn’t afraid to literally run with it, I began to write about things that I love. I began mentally writing on my daily walks through my neighborhood. Thoughts I would have during my walks would turn into ideas for a new writing project. I began to write about the things dearest to my heart: travel, human connection, urban living and love. Yet, the question still remained, why? Why write about these things in a blog format? I even grappled with scrapping the idea of a blog and just keeping a journal. Yet, it seemed the purpose in my writing was not just for me. I have learned that the greatest gift we can offer the world is to share what we love. Delving deeper into the “why”, I began to wonder why this writing would be important. And in that “wonder” lie the final answer.
One more detour as I round the corner to “the answer”, bare with me just a bit longer.
I was in Paris on Friday the 13th, 2015. I was within close proximity to the horrific acts of that night and I was traveling alone. Yet, before that evening, I had spent three lovely days in” the city of love”, and I wrote about it, in real time. What a gift that turned out to be. For the events of that Friday have since changed me and changed me in a way that just wouldn’t make it possible for me to capture the flavor of those first three days. For that I am grateful. I am grateful for no amount of fear or chaos can steal from me what those days meant, they are forever captured in my own words for me to relive at anytime, untainted.
In the days following, after cutting my trip short, I struggled emotionally. I struggled like so many impacted directly from the events of that night. I wanted to make sense of something that we can only conjure about. Though in the end we will all have to make sense of it for ourselves. For me it was just another part of this journey. As I wrote about the events of that evening I experienced emotional release, a plethora of emotions that I just did not know what to do with. Though, I discovered it was no different than the emotions I carry around about poverty and homelessness, in short human pain and suffering. We all, ultimately, want to do something about the things in our world that we find unjust. Yet, so many turn to apathy as coping a mechanism. It seems easier to say “fuck it”, avert our eyes and walk away hands up in the air in resignation. It seems easier than to admit our feelings of helplessness and ultimately inadequacy.
In my own personal journey, the final puzzle piece fell into place when I decided to turn to baking to deal with my crippling feelings of hopelessness. And baking is what I did. My children and I baked over 10 dozen cookies and I packaged them into little baggies to share with strangers and made care packages for the people we cared about. The children shared them with friends and their teachers and I shared them with people I hold dearest to my heart. I walked the city determined to do what I love, though was having a hard time reconnecting with my gift, smiling and making eye contact with everyone I meet. I found that the events of that Friday had left me disillusioned. So what better way to reconnect with my heart once again than to have in hand something tangible I could share, I didn’t have to worry that I didn’t want to smile, I could just offer folks who asked for money something tangible. And that is what I did. “Do you have some change to spare?”, was answered with “I don’t have any money on me but my children and I just bake some cookies would you like some?” Over 100 cookies later I have yet to be refused. Everyone smiled as I handed them their tiny bundle of homemade love. I smiled and a part of my heart began to heal. A healing made possible through a genuine act of love.
So “why” write? I find value in putting into words and sharing with others my own journey in making a difference. Maybe it is just a smile. Maybe it is just a cookie. Yet connecting with others with a smile and a cookie tells them they are important. It is my way of letting others know that when I look at them in the eye, I see them and when I see them, in that moment, they belong. Human connection and belonging are the answer, at least to the challenges of world as I see it. My only hope in writing? Simply to inspire others that they too can find a way to make a difference, for even in the smallest of gestures one can find great love. May you all find the answer to the “why” in your life. For it is in knowing why I write that I feel a deeper connection to my purpose in this life, ever changing, writing allows me to continually understand my evolving sense of purpose.
“ Always leave people better than you found them. Hug the hurt. Kiss the broken. Befriend the lost. Love the lonely.” — Unknown Author
Here’s to spreading love and kindness, may love always win.
Your Delightfully Urban Blogger~