Hello Story Empire friends, Gwen with you today. I’ve an unusual topic to share, something personal to each of us – our health. With all that is going on in our world, I thought it might be a good time to consider this topic.
For many of us, 2021 was a year of challenges and if the first two months of 2022 are predictive, then we’ve more hurdles ahead of us. Unfortunately, sometimes those hurdles involve our well-being. Allow me to digress a little.
In December, my sister sent me a novel situated in the early 1900s. The backdrop of the story was the Spanish Flu and the Great Depression. As I turned the pages, I not only saw the parallels between then and now, I saw the sorrows and fear of the people, much like that which is manifest in our world today.
The book gave me pause and prompted more than a few tears. Though the story didn’t end on a high note, it offered hope through the resilience of the people. They survived, so shall we.
I think we all feel the weightiness of these last years. The uncertainty and worry have taken their toll. Many of us have lost friends, some of us have lost a family member. And on top of everything else, we have our own health challenges.
Writers are often associated with suffering, as though it were heroic for a writer to be bedridden. It seems there is an unspoken assumption that we need suffering to write. After all, John Updike and Charles Dickens battled asthma, Charlotte Bronte and Sylvia Plath faced autoimmune disorders, George Orwell struggled with damaged bronchial tubes, Edith Warton and John Milton had a multitude of complaints, James Joyce and Helen Keller were blind, Herman Melville lived with ankylosing spondylitis, and the list goes on. Imagine if we added psychological turmoil to this list – the writers who suffered from depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and more. That would be quite the list, wouldn’t it?
Several of the above writers used their afflictions to develop their characters. Hemingway, Vonnegut, and Toni Morrison come to mind. Their brokenness became their strength. But the writing was also a gifted relief. No matter what their physical limitations might have been or their psychological demons, writing was an outlet for expressing themselves.
Haven’t you found this to be true as well, especially during these last two years?
Even if our conversations with loved ones are limited to phone calls and our hellos to strangers are brief (and through masks), we have our writing communities. Most of us have never met in person. But we’ve come to know each other through the blogs we visit and the stories we read. Our imaginations join hands, and with that, our hearts as well.
We are home-centered these days. But through this reordering of our lives, we’ve adopted ways for our hearts to speak.
Perhaps some of my findings will resonate with you. Over these last years, I’ve discovered the importance of:
- Honoring “my” time, a part of the day when my spirit can speak and I’m ready to listen. There are no spoken words, but the fullness of this silence stirs creativity.
- Setting aside time for beauty. Perhaps a walk in nature, or heart-filled music, or spiritual reading – something that leaves me in awe.
- Practicing mindfulness, being in the moment – not somewhere in the future. When I can do this, the weightiness lifts.
- Spending time with my community – those unmet friends who share their lives, their dreams, and their vivid imaginations through their writing. You.
Do you have a similar set of practices? Won’t you please share?
We’re in this together, forging a literary path through the world’s confusion. Though our ailments hamper us, they also provide fuel for our stories. We assign words to feelings and help those who can’t do the same. Because we are writers, we are never alone.
Thank you for being part of the writing community. I wish you all the best and look forward to meeting you again next month. Till then…