What an amazing ride I’ve had in the past few days on the tsunami of commentary from my previous post. While it’s been fun (dare I use the “F” word again in a post?) it has also left me unsettled. I’m not used to so many eyes reading what I write and discussing it. Although I re-write many times in an effort to get the words of my post just right, I still miss the mark for some people some of the time. This seems to be part of the deal.
Written communication is tricky when I have lots of time for revisions, edits and spell checks. Writing back and forth in the comment section is like having a whole lot of new high-speed pen-pals all at once whose faces I may well never see.
I was caught off guard by the intensity of expressed emotions, the willingness to reveal personal experiences and the genuine tenderness and warmth.
And we’re still talking to each other. Mostly. I think. That’s amazing. And wonderful.
This morning I flipped through my idea pile; the barely conceived, the half-done and the near done, looking for what to write next. I could find nothing that really pulled at my heart. Sure, I have a lot to say about a lot of things. Trust me on this one. I do. But not one of these scraps of ideas feels like what I need to write today.
This brisk, multi-partied public conversation we’ve had over the past few days has stirred a great deal up from the bottom of my pond. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been given fresh humility with regard to the generosity, caring and resilience of my fellow humans. I was aware of these things. But they now have a sparkling new coat.
Today, all the subjects in my “write next” pile are flat and tasteless beside the real conversations and relationships we’ve miraculously forged with nothing but words riding electrons inside cables and invisible vibrations though the sky. These are the seeds of genuine human connections. When I decided to take a swing at writing on MIA, I had no idea this was possible. I am more than a little humbled by this.
Today, I wish my words could reach out to each of you who reads them and hug you. Okay. I hope you understand this to be a loving impulse. I suspect not every single one of you reading these words would want this “word hug” from me. Still, this is how I feel as I type these words on my laptop with the cool breeze blowing through the open window beside me.
First the pond. Then learning and humility.
I live in an small pond created and maintained by me. I keep the water of my life as still as I can so that I can navigate everyday life as a psychiatrist, writer, wife and mother. I work outside the home as little as possible. The TV and radio is off. I ignore current events and news. I go to bed early and get up in the quiet dark to write. We eat at home. Until this sabattical I did not have internet at home. What I know about the “real world” comes from everyday life and conversations with real people.
I keep plenty of slack in the fabric of my life. When life throws me a curveball, I can generally catch it. This approach to living has good parts. The mud stays down, the water remains clear and the family gets dinner. I’m certain many would find my life dull.
The drawback to this intentionally mundane existence is that my world view becomes more narrow and shallow as the settled mud of passing time and life builds up. Plus, there’s a lot of reality I don’t get exposed to.
These recent on-line conversations have been pond-stirring for me. I thank everyone for sticking their paddles in the pond and gracing me with truths from their lives. My pond is muddier now but it’s also deeper. I seem to see better with more mud in my water this week. There is more to think about.
Learning and humility is tougher for me to think and write about than the pond. When I have a visual metaphor like a pond, it’s easier for me to explore thoughts and feelings. It gives me a patch of reality to swim around in and look at.
As I think about my new learning that has come from our recent conversations, I find it to be inextricably woven with humility.
Why don’t I tell you about three things I’ve learned. I’m certain there will be more understanding yet to come for me. Different lessons come at different times. These three are simply for starters.
First, real people with deep feelings reveal their traumatic experiences and sensitive selves here. They open their hearts and leave themselves vulnerable. This is where my new-found humility enters the picture. I’m humbled by the courage it takes to write personal truths before unknown and invisible eyes. I wasn’t expecting these: the revelations, the emotions or the courage.
Second. I’ve learned, again, the power of saying ‘I’m sorry’. There are so many hurts in this world and never enough forgiveness. There are some incredible peacemakers here among us when we move beyond the pain and anger. This gives me more humility. It also infuses my life with hope. I find I can’t have too much of either humility or hope.
Third. We are all one. In ways I am not able to say in words, all of us are connected. I know this and feel this but my words are inadequate to the speaking of it. Here’s that humble feeling again. It wells up inside me like clear cool water and comes from my eyes as tears.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.