I’ve been reading slowly through Martha Beck’s book The Joy Diet, a guide for leading a happier life. I’ve always enjoyed her columns in Oprah magazine, and the book is just as good.
I came across an interesting passage that got me thinking….
People can have a hard time identifying what’s really important to them in life, and discovering what they really want to do in life. Ms. Beck, a therapist, says sometimes clients find it hard to dig through the layers of rationalization and obligation we pile on our lives to find the answer.
I’ve got a good “cut to the chase” question for that: “When you were in first grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?” This sometimes helps people get back to the simple joys and desires they had, before shoulda/woulda/coulda took over.
Martha has another great question to ask yourself:
“What were you doing on the evening of 9/11?”
Her point is, the morning of 9/11, everyone was doing the same ol’ same ol’, taking care of what they thought they should be taking care of. But by the end of the day, people were doing something drastically different. They were desperately hold on to, or reaching out to, the things they felt were really important.
The evening of 9/11, I was out having my birthday dinner with my husband. The only other people out were other people having their sad little birthday dinners, too. But what cheered me (a little) that day was that despite what had happened, we were still determined to celebrate the small, important milestones in our lives.
And by the next day, I’d written this essay called An Ancient Story for Modern Times.
Reading Martha’s passage, I realized several things.
My first real response to 9/11 was to put it in context for my children, and hold my family close.
My second response was to go to my studio and make my art.
My third response was to write about it in context with my story. And to retell that story to others.
I guess I’m more on track in my life than I realize….