WRITING TIP: Create a life-affirming past.

writing tip

It’s easy to mistake “what happened” for the truth, and write about it as though it were mere fact. But the string of events that make up our past — whether personal or collective — is just an ingredient until we’ve assigned meaning to it. Facts don’t speak for themselves — our assumptions, beliefs, blind spots and undigested feelings all color them, no matter how objective we think we are being. For this reason, there is no such thing as a definitive history, for we are dynamic beings, always in the process of opening or closing, expanding or constricting our ability to see clearly and compassionately. Seeing the past in this way, we are never the victims of something solid that happened, and which we can only report on. Rather, we can claim the power to create a new, life-affirming story of the past, for ourselves and for the world, and in doing so, create the basis for a life-affirming present and future.

WRITING PROMPT: I am not those stories…

WRITING PROMPT: i am not those stories...

WRITING PROMPT: I slipped into the easy way…

wriiting prompt

WRITING PROMPT: Would you be willing…

writing prompt

WRITING TIP: Make your words sing like a cactus.

WRITING TIP: Make your words sing like a cactus.

Start by being here, right now. For example, right now I can see the mountain outside my window, dotted with green, the brown earth in between telling me it’s both dry and lush, land of cactus. I can still see how yesterday, Seb sat beside the cactus and plucked at its spines until he found the ones that made sounds — one thorn bright, one dull and deep, another like a high ping—and then he played that cactus on one side while Chris played the other side and I sat astonished. I had never heard a cactus sing.

I loved watching Seb, his childlike curiosity to find out what things can do. I loved watching his quick delight — right beside the more serious expresssion on Chris’s face, skin burnished by the late afternoon sun, a simplicity and ground in his stance. I loved them both for their willingness to hurt fingers and thumbs for the sake of music. And now, I look again at the mountainside, curious what music can be made by the hidden shrubs that grow up that steep pathway?

This curiosity just might be another word for love. After all, isn’t love just full attention that wants to make contact, evoke life, meet it somehow, discover its limits, thumb to cactus spine, foot to earthy pathway? Isn’t love just the words we need to say, or the music we need to play, because the heart is so full that it needs to spill out to make room for more?

Want your words to sing like a cactus? Try gently exploring the thorns that have kept you away from your curious heart.

WRITING PROMPT: When the cactus sings…

WRITING PROMPT: When the cactus sings...

WRITING PROMPT: Curious about the thorns…

WRITING PROMPT: Curious about the thorns...

WRITING PROMPT: For the sake of music…

WRITING PROMPT: For the sake of music...

WRITING TIP: Tempted to publish that angry diatribe?

WRITING TIP: Be sure your writing frees us up...

It’s vital to give yourself all the space you need to write whatever you need to write, including your anger and your judgments. But when it comes to revising your work and sharing it with others, whether on social media or in a book, you might want to pay attention to the effect your writing will have. Does it encourage you or your reader to stay complacent, angry or stuck? Is it adding to the fear or despair in the world? “What writers do should free us up, shake us up,“ wrote Susan Sontag. ”Open avenues of compassion and new interests. Remind us that we might, just might, aspire to become different, and better, than we are. Remind us that we can change.”

WRITING PROMPT: Waiting for deep thunder…