One of the things I love about writing with women inside CRCF is their openness to challenge, to new things. Not at first, perhaps. The occasional grumble or raised eyebrow, even outright resistance. But they listen. They try. Even when the directions are complicated. And then there comes the moment, that marvelous ‘got it!‘ moment when a connection is made. The eyes brighten. The face relaxes. The hand is off across the page, writing, writing, surprising us all with what emerges when the chime signals time to stop.
Last night the initial writing prompt was three two-minute memories. First, a gesture or physical habit; second, a smell redolent with meaning; third, personal experience of an historic event. For the final 20 minutes of writing, and after sharing initial words with a partner who helped her uncover a connecting thread, each woman was tasked with connecting her words into a combined story. Some spun off in a different direction; some condensed the initial three. The following is one woman’s response:
1. Me, I have a hard time sitting still. Even if I cannot move, my mind is wandering. I am ever-moving; slowly, quickly, sadly, angry or happy. My body does not like to stop. What would the silence say? What if I just stopped moving – my foot, my hand, doing crunches on the cold hard floor. What would I be – or who? Maybe the question itself scares me. The answer totally freaks me out.
2. The smell of old books – or paper – reminds me that life is more than just me. The world is huge and everything in between. The smell of old books takes me back to a time when I still had a bit of faith in myself. The smell of old books takes me back to a time where I made many mistakes. The smell of old paper – oh, what a wonderful smell. Where am I going to go today? The smell of old books, a memory I do love to have. The smell of old books is a magical thing for me.
3. On September 11, 2001, I woke up to panic and frenzy. A plane had hit the twin towers – not just one, but two. I was living in D.C. at the time and I remember they were saying a plane was headed to the Capitol. Indeed, so close, the plane went into the Pentagon. I have never seen the sadness or the unitedness of this nation as poignant as it was in those days to come. I have never seen our nation’s capitol at a stand-still. D.C. streets looked like a battle was close at hand. Army personnel, guns, trucks, ammunition everywhere. The tanks lined almost every street of the city. I remember hearing the jets above – constant fear of another attack. I remember being so relieved that it was our country in control again – or so I thought. I remember being proud that day, that we didn’t give up, that people were really helping people. We were there for each other like I’ve never seen before.
The Power of My Mind
Today is a great day to be exactly who I am.
That is the ability of the mind. My mind.
I can believe in faith and goodness and trust; or a tragedy, a triumph or lust.
I am just learning how to use this power of my mind.
It can take me places here and far.
It can keep me in the present.
That is a gift of the power of my mind.