Something I find really interesting about my writing endeavors is that often, my writing will focus itself around a theme. This is not a deliberate effort on my part. Though the various pieces I write may have very different subject matter, I can usually draw a common thread between pieces written about the same time.
A good example of this are two very different articles I wrote for PsychCentral (to publish this month)
The first article deals with parenting and educational approaches with very young children. The second article deals with the very real dangers of abuse adolescents are commonly faced with. At first glance, these two seem to be worlds apart. But there is an overarching principle about human development that unites them.
It has to do with a concept that I think is best illustrated by Yoga practice. Many ancient meditations follow the ideology of energy chakras - this is a more complicated concept, but at their very basic, chakras are focal points throughout our body radiating different levels of energy. We all store and focus our energy in different ways. I, for example, am very crown focused. I am always in my head. This creates a great imbalance of energy in my body, leaving the lower, root chakra almost totally empty.
One might think since my crown is the problem, hoarding all the energy, I should start there. But I cannot remove the energy in my crown by focusing on the crown, that only adds energy to an already supercharged area.
The only way to redistribute this energy is through proactive counterbalance, by bringing focus to the counterbalancing chakra. Yoga accomplishes this through specific body movements, balancing effort and ease. By strengthening the weaker root chakra, I will drain energy from the crown, creating a more balanced flow of energy overall.
This concept of proactive counterbalancing is what unites both articles I mentioned above. The first article describes overturning a disruptive child's negative cycle by banking intentional, positive experiences. In the second article, instead of trying to come up with ways to decrease incidents of abuse, we focus on ways of empowering youth to make them less susceptible to types of abuse they will inevitably encounter.
Overall, I think we could solve a lot of problems this way. When we think about the problems of our world, we often try to draw our solutions from fixing the people or things that seem to be generating the most conflict. But maybe it's time we start looking at our problems from the opposite angle.
How can we proactively counterbalance the problem and thereby drain it of its energy?
The relationship between the reader and the writer is so interesting. As a writer, you can never be sure how your work will be interpreted and you never know when something you write is going to profoundly impact someone's life.
"I am just not a writer." OH the number of times I've heard these words. Usually following someone reading something that I have written. Flattering as it may be, I can't in good conscious let it go to my head. Because the truth is, writing is a skill, just like anything else. It's true, there may be some element of nature competing with nurture, but that doesn't put good writing out of anyone's reach.
But it is really easy to be discouraged about writing, even for a writer! Here's why:
Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. Though, to be fair, it isn't usually an intentional lie. We really tend to believe that we somehow preserve our talents by deferring their use to the right "time."
But, here's a song lyric that I think will put that theory into perspective:
"Don't wait for your time, baby, time isn't waiting for you."
I was in college the first time I was ever exposed to the warning signs of a codependent relationship.
I had already graduated by the time anyone was talking about professional leadership development.
I majored in Psychology which led me to a fascinating wealth of information concerning human growth, development, and interpersonal relationships. But I faced a pervasive belief that a Bachelor's in Psychology is worthless.
I cannot tell you how many young professionals I have encountered, when I disclose I majored in Psychology and minored in Studio Art, they quizzically ask, "What do those two have to do with each other?"
But the real question is, what does psychology NOT have to do with? To me, it is connected to literally every other aspect of life.
Seriously, who does not love Tom Hanks?
What makes him so lovable and relatable? It could be his humor, his vulnerability, the common theme of the roles he plays having problematic egos that are still somehow incredibly endearing.
The following quote from him has always resonated with me, especially as it comes from someone so widely loved,
In college, my first studio art class was Foundations of Art, a very basic and very low stress learning atmosphere. To say I was excited was an understatement. Here I was in real deal art school, with my sharpened colored pencils and orderly watercolor trays and brushes. For our very first assignment, our professor asked us to fill a blank page with designs using only a black, permanent marker. Simple enough, right?
That's when it happened: pure and complete paralysis. What do I draw? How do I draw it? With a marker? A permanent marker? Unable to erased? To exist in time and space forever?
Inspired by this quote I decided to curate my own list of children's books that may superficially seem like light hearted, entertaining stories, but when held up in a different light, actually contain profound truths about our world and our lives that we grapple with on a daily basis as adults.
The unique capacity of children to understand concepts far beyond their years is something I think we should take note of and try to emulate as adults, lest we become too restrictive in our thoughts and self discoveries and deny the inherent wisdom we've all had since we were children.
I know what you're thinking.
Right out of the gate, a major writing faux pas - quoting Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." Could there be a more clichéd, overused, and comprehensively mastered statement in all the English language?
But just wait.
Frost message contains more than what you may have uncovered in Poetry Analysis class and the message is anything but trite. He is speaking more subtly to a specific audience. In this instance, "the one [road] less traveled by" does not mean to take the road fewer choose, but to see the path no one else sees, to hear a call no one else hears, and to pursue it.
These days, we have access to a multitude of problem solving resources. When we have a problem, we could come up with limitless combinations of solutions. But, either to curb our overwhelm of information or by the limits of our own perspective, our awareness is sometimes blind to the true extent of the options available to us. I tend to blame it on a long-standing system of standardized education in which there is "only one best answer."