Like A Bell, It Chimed: Of Course.
I am a personal essayist.
This has always been true, and yet, it just became clear to me one day well into our road trip. Like a bell, it chimed: of course.
I have kept a journal since the age of nine. My creative output—the really prolific work—has always been overwhelmingly captured in the quiet, twilight womb of a journal. In the private spaces of an interior life.
I have painted. I have written. (A novel. A non-fiction book proposal. A business law blog. (Most of) a business law book. A business as sacred practice blog. A few articles.)
I’ve given talks over the years. Produced a podcast for a short while. Delivered live and recorded trainings.
I’ve been a lawyer, a business owner, a mentor, a yoga teacher.
And none of this has felt like it has emerged as my form. I do not produce prolifically. I do not, as I confessed to my sculptor aunt with some confusion and concern, yet have a body of work.
Except that I do: I have boxes full of a lifetime of journals. I have a rich interior life. I am quite prolific in digesting, synthesizing and extracting meaning from life.
What I am not prolific at is externalizing.
A very small percentage of my writing ever gets shared—with anyone, let alone on a blog or as a book. My husband observed just the other day: “You have an entire life lived in your journal.”
It is true.
And you would think that there was a simple, practical solution to this stopgap of sharing: hire someone to format it, post it and share it.
Truthfully, there is so much that has withered in notebooks and Dropbox; so much that has been considered, articulated, created that has never been shared. Because sharing was the exhausting part. But the practicality—which could be solved expeditiously—was not the problem.
I have an unexhumed body of work not because I failed to hire a “content” assistant and not even because I failed to write consistently. I have an unexhumed body of work because I failed to view my most natural impulse to express and explore—in those journals—as an art form.
It had never occurred to me.
I have a bias against personal narrative. This bias is not innate. It is cultivated, groomed, honed. It is an outcrop of my experience, and more significantly, of my training.
I am a history major and a lawyer: both of which purportedly seek and craft a narrative of truth out of facts; both of which normalize the experience and legitimize the narrative of those in power and inherently question as biased, suspect or self-serving, the experience of those without.
I could rack up the stories of when historic or legal criticism was discounted (vehemently) as merely personal experience. But what are we if not a collective of personal experience?
How do we know each other and ourselves if not through the stories of our experience?
So, you will see that art form here, as expression and as teaching, in defiance of all content marketing advice that “it is not about you” (in this case me), in favor of:
“When you’re speaking in the truest, most intimate voice about your life, you are speaking with the universal voice.”*
We’ll explore: dharma, divine wisdom, business + spirituality, structure + flow, integration, transition, reinvention (and whatever else comes) in the pursuit of meaningful work and a life well lived.
It is my hope that you will see yourself, and in yourself, you will see the Universe. I am just a conduit.
*quote from the Memorist Cheryl Strayed