One letter at a time/Unsplash
When I was a child, I was slow to speak. Family lore had it that I ran before I was a year old but waited until I had passed my second birthday to utter a word. At that point, sentences tumbled out of my mouth. Maybe writing is like that for me now – so much mulled over across the years, so many ways of expression considered. Today, convinced that my journey and my love of writing can bring inspiration to others, here I am sharing some of the musings.
By the time I was ten, a bit young for Junior High School but that’s where I was, I knew I loved to create. After years salvaging pencil stubs to sketch outfit designs on scraps of paper, I discovered fabric. Home economics classes taught me how to operate a sewing machine. I made a skirt I never wore. Nonetheless, and even though I see myself as mechanically challenged, I loved the activity and asked my father for my own sewing machine as a combined December birthday/Hanukkah gift that winter. My father was generous but practical. I received a Royal typewriter.
The message was clear and I heard it. For years I wrote poems, essays, school assignments and, most of all, a diary. I learned to pour my pre-adolescent heart onto the pages of a vinyl-covered book look-alike with a useless brass “lock”. In ninth grade, wanting the speed and efficiency, I taught myself touch typing. The following summer I took a course in Creative Writing. We wrote while listening to Mozart and Rachmaninoff, Sinatra and Elvis, Miles Davis and Erroll Garner. By the time I finished high school, I was Feature Editor of our school newspaper and longing for a career in journalism … or law. Either would require a lot of writing, an activity I had grown to love.
College introduced me to new worlds and, with them, possibilities. I began with a dream of becoming a “hidden persuader”, a motivation/marketing research expert. My Adviser, a woman who had served on the President’s Economic Council of Advisers, took me aside and told me not to ruin my life by giving up marriage and children for a career. She had risen to the top of her profession and told me that she regretted the price she had paid. It was 1961. I listened, dropped the Economics major, and began to explore the Humanities.
By junior year, I decided to major in Religion. I wanted to know how great traditions had defined the good person, the good life, the good society. To appreciate how cultures had defined and navigated reality. I wrote and wrote and wrote – term papers, letters home, occasionally a poem. A few days after graduation, I got married and within two years became a mother. I stopped writing for a while.
My daughter inspired me to return to the typewriter. I wanted to write little stories for her, short pieces that contained life lessons. An often-invisible Tinker-belle-like fairy was my protagonist. In my more practical moments, I wrote a handbook about our town for the League of Women Voters. Then I returned to school.
For the next thirty-five years, I wrote science – my dissertation first, then course syllabi, journal articles, book chapters, abstracts and presentations for conferences, keynote addresses, even some encyclopedia entries. Privately, I wrote to myself. Through the pen I tried to metabolize pain, share joy, work my way through confusion. I obsessed over decisions, wrote about what mattered and occasionally what did not. At one time, I wrote close to a hundred poems.
A few months after I met David, he asked me about my career dreams. Sheepishly but honestly – I never could lie to David – I admitted that I had always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to paint pictures with words, sending beauty out into the world through images created in people’s minds, and I wanted to share lessons life had taught me. I understood that each person learns the unique lessons required of him or her in a unique way – but I hoped that I could find the language to make what I had learned in my own life so lively that others could sidestep a bit of the pain I had endured or maintain some of the hope and courage that had made learning possible.
And there you have it. After I retired, there was time. And now blogging offers a format. I hope that my love of writing brings you, my readers, something of value. Perhaps an image that inspires. Perhaps a few words that convey mantra-like comfort or hope. Perhaps a new perspective on an ancient issue. Perhaps a conviction that movement towards a life of courage, joy and integrity is, indeed, possible and worthwhile. This blog is my love letter to you. Love is Real.