“Write for an hour.” Antoinette instructed.
“An hour?” my mind screamed. “What will I write for an hour? What needs explored this morning? What will come I wonder?”
When I signed up for this day of Life Writing I wanted to investigate the part of my story that seeks expression in my memoir. It has been a journey, a long journey.
It began as I travelled on a train across the deserts of Iran 40 years ago. Fresh eyes, young and innocent of the world I wrote a travel log of our honeymoon to Afghanistan. Back then my inner world was not a place I visited, it remained off limits, unexplored, not worthy of my attention. A forlorn, forbidden place where if I dared to enter I would find terrorists, demons filled with unspeakable shames and secrets. It was many years before I was forced to open the book of myself.
When I returned from India a few years later I wrote an article about hairdressing in the Himalaya. I though it worthy of National Geographic but when it was rejected by a travel magazine I filed it away in a box that I carted from London to NZ to Australia and finally Canada.
My life changed dramatically in 1984 as I plunged into mother hood. I did not want to forget the extraordinary life of travel I had lived, the wild places and people I met on those ‘once in a lifetime’ journeys. I carved out space in my busy life to write. In the small back bedroom, I closed my mind to my surroundings while I recorded our adventures on our first computer.
I showed these writings to a trusted mentor Jack Shallcrass. His comment took me aback. “Wilma we need to know about your thoughts and feelings.“ My files were pushed into the box to be forgotten as I raised my family.
Becoming a mother I propelled me into my feelings. I remember the awe I felt as my fully formed baby boy was placed on my stomach after 14 hours of labour. Love at first sight, careful examination revealed he had no squint. His brown eyes, in his perfect pixie face, framed by his dark hair, gazed at me wide and alert. A miracle. As he grew feelings poured through my body, weariness, exhaustion, anger, frustration, irritation, boredom, despair, depression, hope, joy, play, compassion, and love.
Years later the children grown, I wrote a draft of my life and now I am re-crafting this, some days it feels as if I am wallowing in my past.
Last night on facebook I watched photographs Louise Hay the writer who in the eighties gave me priceless tools to love and design my own life. She was dressed in a filmy magenta top celebrating at her 85th birthday party with vigor and enthusiasim. I felt warmth as if her love reached out to me across cyber space and through the computer screen. More than that I was inspired that she is still writing and living life full of meaningful activities.
Why write a memoir? It is about the growth of me, my unique story, my own unfolding, life’s process of revealing mySelf to myself. Each step not wrong, not bad, but necessary to my journey towards wholeness. In this happy day world of linear thinking and rationality where emotions and wandering are judged as wasting time, unacceptable, or downright wrong, I can’t think of anything more valuable than trying to express my growth, my development, my authenticity on the page.