At some point early in our lives, we come face to face with our “one-ness” – with being only “one” in the middle and muddle of many other people. Because of circumstances, individual experiences, genetic makeup, unique intellects - we all approach this one-ness differently. Then one day, we stumble upon a shiny thing we have come to label self-awareness. We pick it up, turn it this way and that in our hands, and either embrace the mystery of it, or lay it back down for a later time - perhaps a little later, perhaps much later. For me, the shiny thing, once embraced, became a wondrous, confounding, trouble-making burden that nonetheless continues to lead me through my life’s journey. Along the way, as my awareness strengthened, it brought about previously unimagined changes in me – it mended relationships, disturbed relationships, kept me sane, made me crazy, helped me speak my mind, gave me joy I never would have thought possible. And, ultimately, will take me home.
From early on, I confused my own one-ness with loneliness, grieving the loss of my tribe, which clearly had wandered off somewhere without me. This tribe was made up of my fellow seekers, buddies, best friends, soul mates maybe - the people who would “get” me, and whom I would get, people who may even have glimpsed their own self-awareness. I believed I saw them from time to time – on a movie screen, on television talk shows, in school, acquaintances - people who voiced my own thoughts, kind of - people who were searching. On occasion, one or another of us got up the courage to speak, to share our differences and watch the glow start. But there weren’t many of these accidental meetings, and when they did happen, we were cautious with each other, afraid that at some level of communication, our language would become dissimilar.
About four years ago, I found myself living in Indianapolis by way of Chicago. I had done a little writing over the years, and my last efforts had been in a casual writing group there. I saw the Writers Center advertised here, and signed up for a class.
Am I about to tell you I found my soul mates, my tribe? No. But I did find searchers like me, who wander around bumping into things, and sit in classes shifting their own shiny objects from one hand to the other. By writing, they look for truths - their own, the universal ones, even truths I never knew to seek. When we choose to share our writing, our one-ness with each other, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, most often we are quietly inspired by each other. And people are there who are very unlike each other, thinking up stuff – silly stuff, profound stuff – or just exploring possibilities. Fellow travelers, we are not trying to be reflections of each other, just people trying to see themselves, their lives, in their own mirrors - and write down what they see.
Please join us at the Gathering of Writers on March 21st. If you have attended before, this will be even better, and if this will be your first time, come and see what I’m talking about.
Teri Costello is the Programs Manager at the Indiana Writers Center.