Writing to Change. Cope. Grow – “The Sound of Paper” by Julia Cameron (Sept. 2007)

Susan’s Thursday morning note September 13, 2007
The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron
Writing to Change, Cope & Grow
Good morning!  I have already had a perfect cup of coffee, my little cats are trying to keep their eyes open for me for encouragement, and my sliding door is open with the perfect crisp air that you only dream of most months in Nebraska.  Can’t beat a morning like this!!  I have a book beside me that one of you (smile) ordered last week and I could tell as I unpacked the book that it may be the next “Susan book”!  I have devoured my copy the last few days, thinking, “I just can’t believe how fortunate I’ve been the last three months – I can’t keep up with the books I’m wanting to read!  This little paperback, The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron, has given me three short little ideas for weekly personal thinking and processing.  She gives little short essays on helping us set daily goals, begin daily writing (that we can daily then throw away!) to process what exactly we are thinking about, and to live at a level of thought that is not surface level as we must often show.
The book is full of practical ideas for helping us to write – for the author believes if we make ourselves sit and write a few minutes each morning (as important as physical exercise) – where we can hope, celebrate, plan, plot, complain, whine, grumble, grieve (then throw away if we want to!) that we will begin to prioritize our day.  That our writing will render us present to the moment; introduce us to an unsuspected inner strength and agility.  Quick writing will draw to our attention those areas of our life that need our focus.  Our weaknesses and our strengths will be revealed.  Problems will be exposed and solutions suggested.  We become our own friend and witness.  She believes that when we write out in longhand (not type) we are able to think, process, and give ourselves guidance and resilience.  Here are some of the lines I underlined…
Life is beautiful, but we must have enough emotional equilibrium to experience it that way.  It is too risky to blame life for our own lack of living.  Life is full of sorrow, and sour, but it is also full of sweet…
For so many of us, it is hard to be both large enough and small enough to hold the range of life.  Without a spiritual connection to something larger than ourselves, we lose our bearings, our beings, our sense of scale.  Of course we do.  The human experience is intricate, painful, and very beautiful.  We lead lives filled with loss and filled with gain.  Without a tool to metabolize what we live through – and for me that tool is Morning Pages – and even with it, it is hard to process who we have been and who we have become.  So much happens to each of us.  It is hard to make peace.  Life is like the sea.  A wave of memory sweeps in that threatens to overwhelm us and then the wave retreats, leaving us to wonder at what has been washed ashore…
Today I feel staggered by the power of my emotions, the pull of the past.  Today I must work to have faith, to trust the newness that has been made from my loss.  To trust what has been put in place of all that went before.  I must live, as the wise ones tell us, one day at a time.  This means I must turn to my tool kit and pull from it the tool that has served me longest and best.  I must write.  One day at a time, I can chip away at the musical play that I am writing now.
The present is big enough to hold the past.  I must live in it, not just occupy its time.  My morning writing reminds me that while I cannot choose much of what happens to me in my life, I can choose how I respond to what happens… It is good to have some alone time.  To drop down into my thoughts and into my life with no one expected home and nothing required of me for a while.
Goodness – I don’t know where to stop!  I underlined so much in this book!!  Please – all of you read this book if no other.  You will change your thought processes and your goals.  Here is another paragraph:
The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek words meaning “filled with God.” If, as Mies van der Rohe is said to have remarked, “God is in the details,” maybe we belong there as well.  Maybe the most direct route to our heart’s desires is a circuitous one that allows us to encounter destiny by stopping to admire the calico cat sunning itself amid the geraniums on a window ledge.  Perhaps those shortcuts that cut out the sweetness of life are really cutting us off from life itself.  Henry Miller advised us, “Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.  Forget yourself…”
Actually, I am sad.  I am lurching through a tough season of overwork and underplay and I am not alive with excitement to much of anything.  The world feels like a long wait at the post office, something to just be endured.  How did this happen?  What became of my sense of adventure?  Why am I so discouraged?  I have not let myself mourn… When I am in a period of drought, my chief enemy is despair.  I am afraid to harbor hope, and yet it is the gentle harboring of hope that is the antidote to dryness of the spirit.  In arid times we must practice a very gentle discipline.  We must keep on keeping on.  Morning Pages are never more important than in those periods when we seem to eke them onto the page a drop at a time.  The slightest trickle, the merest hint of water, creative juice, is what we are after.
Okay – I’ll stop!  Please order this book.  Just a little paperback on the surface, but I believe it may be the easiest to read book for practical, easy suggestions for us to begin to process who we are – our thoughts, our dreams, our hopes, our disappointments, our hurt, our joy.  She is determined that regardless of our circumstances we breathe, we live, we don’t just exist anymore in this crazy busy lifestyle we are all caught up in.  I’ll stop now!  Just know that books change my life – I’ll send you a quote next week on how books have impacted the life of C.S.  Lewis.  Too much writing today to add that to your letter!  Go take on your week!  Order this book – let’s all begin to live as God created us – individual minds, individual thoughts, individual souls.  Let’s find who he created us to become – let’s not just exist.  Life is too short.  Thank you for letting me enter your world on Thursdays!  Come by soon just to surround yourself with a quiet little store.  I hope we give you as much as you bring to us.  Susan
Work Cited:
Cameron, Julia.  The Sound of Paper.  New York: Tarcher, 2005.