This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending a writer’s workshop in up-state New York. The retreat where the workshop was held felt ‘back in time’. No phones , no TVs, a camp like setting….a grass-roots feel. The experience was nothing like what I had expected, as I find a commonality for the few courses I have attended. Expecting to get a few tips for organizing my book, I returned with nothing of the sort, but oh so much more.
There were about twenty of us hoping to tighten our writing skills in attendance. We were from all walks of life, ages ranging four decades, diverse ethnic backgrounds, rich, poor, married, single, gay, straight…as different as you can get…on the outside. What was so fascinating was on Friday night (our first class) we were complete strangers, easily identified by our different looks and demeanor. But by the end of the course, we all knew how similar we actually were as people….birds of a feather, only identifiable by our hearts.
The first night we introduced ourselves and shared what had brought us to this little oasis in the middle of no-where. We judged one anther based on our looks, age, and story. I was skeptical…where is this going, I thought. What will this become?
Our facilitator, a very accomplished author whom I am proud to have experienced his wisdom first hand, was very gentle. He asked us questions about ourselves with love and kindness. He helped us process our answers. He asked us to look within…to be honest. To be authentic.
By the second class on day two, we were suddenly pouring our hearts out to complete strangers. These strangers took on the role of the most loving cushion. An un-intended support group. And as one by one, we shared our deepest darkest for the sake of strengthening our memoirs, a commonality became evident. We all were somewhat unhappy with ourselves, and/or struggling with some aspect of our life. A gift God handed us, that we are not yet grateful for. The topics included drugs, sex, alcoholism, death, abuse…and each of us came clean. It was cathartic. Suddenly all of our masks were lifted, and we all appeared the same. we all are the same underneath our costumes. And it became so very clear to me that so few of us are truly happy. We hold on to our identities that we have created for ourselves with all of our might, and we stick by them. we are stuck like glue to old habits, old situations, and out-dated relationships. And most do nothing about it…locked to our past and current circumstances by thick metal chains and locks. We cannot find the keys.
But this weekend, our facilitator showed us where the keys were hidden. They weren’t very far away. They were quite close by actually. The keys are within us. So now, we all have a job to do. Our little group, small but mighty, has the opportunity to be pioneers. Pioneers of love and truth. We found we can make the change. We are not locked up for life. We opened the gift and made a choice to face it, love it, embrace it, and let it go. This mighty little group of strangers from all walks of life became trustworthy diaries…and cheerleaders of hope.
Thank you accomplished author, coach, and professional extractor…your wisdom and intuitive skills have had a huge impact on my being, outlook and honesty with myself. Thank you for encouraging all of us to accept we are worthy…thank you for skipping the syntax lesson, and choosing the life lesson.