Tell It To the Walls - My Year of Growing Graceful

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I grew up in a society that values journal writing, but besides a few spurts here and there, I have never been a consistent journal keeper. I’ve had this running dialogue in my head telling me (in a rather disapproving tone,) “You should be passing down your stories” or “You’re never going to remember all this stuff!” or even, “You call yourself a writer? You don’t have a daily writing practice. You don’t have a way to capture all your creative thoughts!”  Yet all these “shoulds” never motivated me to get started.

Then at the beginning of the year, I read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron where she sets forth a practice called Morning Pages: Three written pages first thing every morning. Beyond the reasons given above, she uses journaling as a way to process your life. A place not only to explore what you think, but shape what you think. At the time I was trying to get past some heavy emotional issues, so I decided to give Morning Pages a try. What happened changed my life.

Tell It To the Walls - A Tamil/South Indian Tale

A poor widow lived with her two sons and two daughter-in-laws,

All four of them scolded and ill-treated her all day.

She had no one to whom she could turn and tell her woes.

As she kept her woes to herself...

She grew fatter and fatter.

Her sons and her daughter-in-laws now found that a matter of ridicule.

They mocked her for growing fatter by the day...

And asked her to eat less.

One day -

When everyone else had gone out somewhere -

She wandered away from home in sheer misery...

And found herself walking outside of town.

There she saw a deserted old house.

It was in ruins and had no roof.

She went in -

And suddenly felt lonelier and more miserable than ever -

She found she was unable to keep her miseries to herself any longer

She had to tell someone.

So she told all her tales of grievance against the first son...

To the wall in front of her.

As she finished...

The wall collapsed under the weight of her woes...

And crashed down to the ground in a heap.

Her body felt lighter as well.

Then she turned to the second wall...

And told it all her grievances against her first son’s wife.

Down came that wall...

And she became lighter still.

She brought down the third wall with her tales against her second son...

And the remaining fourth wall too...

With her complaints against her second daughter-in-law.

Standing in the ruins...

With bricks and rubble all around her...

She felt lighter in mood...

And lighter in body as well.

She looked at herself...

And found she had actually lost all the weight

She has gained in her wretchedness.

Then she went home.

This is exactly what has happened to me this year. I filled stacks of notebooks, I toppled walls, I unburdened mountains... and I am lighter. Over the months, the change was remarkable; even miraculous. 

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I have a friend who went to Africa with Richard Leider’s Inventure group and there around a campfire during a story, Richard said, “And as they told their stories, they grew graceful.” That phrase has become the theme and goal for my year.

I don’t know if I’m graceful yet, but hey, I’ve still got five months to go. I do know I still write my three pages every day, and you’ll find much more light and joy there. So with all the story work we do every day, let’s not forget the most important story: our own. The more we write it, the better we’ll live it.