It is not easy for me to try new things.
I tend to hem and haw, make excuses, convince myself I don’t have the time, energy, or perhaps even a genuine desire. In reality, I get in my own way. My inner conversation sounds like this: “you’re just a mediocre photographer”, “you’ve never had any lessons, so how could you EVER sing publicly?”….. or…. “there are so many good writers out there…. would anyone really care about what you have to say?”
And then….this week….something surprising happened.
A Facebook photo of immigrant children seeking asylum, forcefully separated from their parents, provoked me to respond with a brief statement on social media. Within a day, my post blew up…..receiving 5.1K responses with 4.3 thousand thumbs up, 662 hearts, and over 350 comments!
I had two reactions.
Astounded at the overwhelmingly positive replies to my thoughts and feelings, I realized my words had power, influence, connection to a mass of people… and that perhaps what I had to say had some import.
The second awareness….was a reminder that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
In addition to overwhelming support and positive remarks, the Facebook response was sprinkled with not just disagreement, but vicious attack. I mentioned my age in the comment and was met with…” this one escaped the dementia unit”, “you are truly the definition of a 68-year-old fool”, “so…68 and senile?” as well as a few others that referred to me as basically decrepit, demented, out of touch and well past my sexual prime.
The fear of potential criticism and ridicule that often diverts me from taking risks momentarily overrode my desire to express myself. My self-talk was riddled with apprehension about using my voice through writing.
The fear was simultaneously met with a memory.
I recalled a Vision Quest on the desolate beaches of Chatham on Cape Cod. It was over seventeen years ago that I stepped off a small fishing boat onto that wide, expansive strip of sand, several hours walk to where the beach eventually reunited with the mainland. Strolling the shoreline, accompanied by dozens of seals playfully bobbing and rolling in the surf, engaging me with dark, soft eyes of curiosity….I enthusiastically embraced the opportunity of silence and inner dialogue rarely offered in day-to-day life.
Between a bottle of water and a few granola bars, I had tucked a camera in my backpack. A favorite picture taken that day is the photograph above of the solitary seashell I discovered among the steep, wind-blown dunes. The shell, symbolic of a spiral journey into myself… and the interaction with the sleek-bodied mammals…evoked three words I later wrote in marker on a smooth, oval-shaped stone dropped in my pack on the way back to civilization.
So here I sit….fingers tapping a keyboard… pushing through doubt and fear….in an attempt to embrace those words and venture into the world of blogging!
In response to Facebook hostility, I titled the blog:
“Musing with Margaret….Approaching Seventy….with Hair… and Soul on Fire.”
I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, comments… and (gentle) feedback. Smile.