Tag: inspiration

A Spiritual Maturity & Grandeur

I was standing in front of an arrangement of roses with my uncle. We’d been in the dining room when I asked him if he had a simple piece of advice for me to find inner peace. When we stood in front of these flowers, he started telling me something important about the reason flowers need watering. But I did not let him finish his train of thought because I started crying.

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To give you some context, I hadn’t seen my uncle in more than five years (since the last time I visited Mexico. I was a teenager then.). In his interactions with me and our family, his presence emitted, what I’ll call, a spiritual grandeur. In the words of Ada Limon, “I env[ied], I env[ied] that.” I wanted his spiritual grandeur, so I braved myself and asked him for spiritual advice.

The Feeling of Adventure

I am in awe of airplanes. I went to my city’s airport twice this year before it was my turn to get on a plane to travel. I was left with this craving to watch planes land and take off as I saw them, then, through morning gold light and tall window panes. I still crave that image despite my recent trip to Mexico.

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This post isn’t about Mexico’s food or its landmarks. It’s about a wisdom I bring back from there.  (I brought back wisdom to munch on for the rest of the year.) What I want to talk about is the feeling of adventure. (For context, you should know, that I was visiting family.) And even though I wasn’t a tourist, I still felt this sense of adventure.

Dear Writer with Frustration, Inspiration, & Passion

Dear writer,

I’m with you. Like you I’m waiting for my breakthrough.

Out of frustration and out of inspiration I write here.

First, because even when literary journals or magazines have rejected my works, I refuse to believe that my writing isn’t worth publishing. Second, because Etty Hillesum, a not-so-well-known writer died too young and with her died her dream of becoming an established author. (Eight of her diaries were published in one book, but that doesn’t mean that’s all the writing she had to offer the world.)

I can’t let others write my story. Not anymore. To be honest, I don’t even know that my story is being told.

It has become too dangerous to wait until literary journals or magazines give my work approval. I can assure you that my story like your story is the story someone else is looking for right at this moment.

Lately, I’ve been writing with a combination of more urgency, more purpose, and more transparency.

On the “Skull-Sized Kingdom” and Life Purpose

I’ve been thinking too much about the purpose of my life. Too many days in the past I’ve found life meaningless, so I have searched for answers in books like I usually do.

A long time ago, I took a creative writing workshop at my local community college, and one of my professor’s recommended reads was David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” address. (I read it again, since I first read it five-ish years ago.) Wallace says that learning how to think, “means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.”

He also talks about the “boredom, routine, and petty frustration” that come from day-to-day adulthood. I thought of concrete examples of this in my life such as the boredom that can surface when teaching the same lesson to my fourth class of the day or how about my sometimes petty frustration with traffic.

You’d think that I’d have life figured out by now.

To give you an idea of the extent of the meaninglessness I can sometimes find in life, this June, I found myself looking for books about life purpose despite having a degree and a job. You’d think that I’d have life figured out by now.

One Lesson from Etty Hillesum’s Diaries

 

It never ceases to amaze me how I continue to learn from dead people who are not blood related.

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While reading Etty Hillesum’s diaries which were written from 1941 to 1943, I found myself dog earring pages where I found quotes applicable to my life. One of the things that amazes me about Etty is that she found peace, joy, and the beauty of life despite the oppression around her. She was a Dutch Jew living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation, but she never let suffering take hold of her life.

Just like Etty, I have learned how to make much with little. Like her, I feel gratitude for the simplest things: a cup of coffee, a book or a muffin. Even though this is the only book the world will have written by her, (how much I wish she could have lived longer and written more diaries or books), I have found numerous lessons in this collection of her eight diaries.

In one entry she writes, “The rottenness of others is in us, too…I really see no other solution than to turn inward and to root out all the rottenness there. I no longer believe that we can change anything in the world until we have first changed ourselves. And that seems to me the only lesson to be learned from this war. That we must look into ourselves and nowhere else.”