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….


3 thoughts on “WHAT WERE YOU DOING?

  1. When I was in first grade my teacher made us 5 & 6 year olds write these little notes to ourselves. In painstaking letters we wrote our favourite colours, our best friends name and what we wanted to be when we grew up. This was in 1982.

    About 6 years ago, my first grade teacher was moving and found the envelope in her storage boxes and sent out the messages to old students who’s names she could easily find. My name and location haven’t changed so I was lucky and got this little bit of memory lane in the mail one day.

    On the fourth line, in dreadful print, it says: I will be an artist when I grow up.

    That letter was the kick to remember what was most important.


  2. I spent most of the day on 9/11 with my family. And I was folding paper cranes. I had started to fold 1000 paper cranes, and after the events of the day, it was an act of wishing for peace. What am I doing today? Working on a large project making cranes from paper and polymer clay.


  3. Elaine, what a great story! And what a nice teacher you had. I hope you frame that letter to yourself….

    Judy, thank you for sharing your 9/11 story. It’s good to know that even the tiniest act can grow into something wonderful and fulfilling.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s