‘They Have You in That Box’ – Unless….

One last story on this subject, this one from a rainy night in a Vermont library when a couple dozen people came to a session I gave about setting your truth down on paper.

It started with someone raising her hand to ask what the difference was between writing a journal and keeping a diary. A puzzler. We decided maybe a diary was something you expected others would someday read, while a journal was perhaps more persona – or was it the other way around?

What we were talking about was the practice where you took up your pen every day and just scribbled away, hoping to figure out what you were getting at.

“So is there one place where YOU personally write down everything?” somebody asked me at one point.

“Well, maybe not everything,” I answered truthfully.

“So you censor yourself?” someone else asked.

“We all censor ourselves,” said a third person over by the windows.

“My children don’t know the real me!” exclaimed a woman in the back.

“They see you as their mother,” replied someone up front, turning to face her. “They have you in that box.”

“Then will they never know us?” asked another. “Never know who we really were?”

It was a great session.

At the end of it somebody asked why we wish to journal at all.

I groped around for an answer. To relieve our burdened hearts, I said. To catch ourselves at our most honest. To say, in however shy or oblique a way, how much we appreciate the beauty of the little world we find ourselves set down in.”

But any truths I may have spoken were nothing compared to the truths I heard uttered in that workshop, at the end of which I was so dazzled I forgot to hand out the Contact Information cards I always carry as a way of holding on to people. As a result, though I can still call up most of their faces, I don’t have a single one of those good people’s names.

That didn’t matter so much, as I knew even then. What mattered was that they had each other’s: as I packed up to leave that warm room, they were all busily swapping phone numbers and addresses.

Ah, to have found my voice and used it all these years: what friendship and accompaniment it has brought me! And how happy I have been to think that I can now help others find and use their voices too!

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