So I’m a writer. It has taken me a long time to admit that out loud. I held it close, like a secret identity for so long. For years I kept my writing between myself, the local magazines I wrote for, the literary journals that published my short stories and the large number of agents that requested my full manuscripts. To the rest of the world I was just…well, “just”. Just a librarian. Just a barista. Just a tour guide. Just a lover of coffee. Just a purveyor of world travel. Just someone who learned the Italian language for love of the country. Just a member of a book club. Just a Capricorn. Just a kid from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
We do that to ourselves though, don’t we? We “Just”-ify ourselves. I was talking with a physical therapist, (I’ve got a ‘hitch in my giddy up’) and she asks questions while she works, and who knew all my angst would come up through the work. I used the word ‘Should’ a lot with her. She shook her head and gently said, “there you go again, should-ing all over yourself.”
Not only do I love that. Take a second and say it out loud a few times: Should-ing all over yourself.
Haha. Such fun.
Her point, one that has continually tried to stay front of center in my life, is that there are no real “should”. The “shoulds” might even be construed as giving part of our power away. I’m exhausted when I live in a world of shoulds and forget what I’m about. So I argue that “just” is another one of the same traps.
Of course I’ve been reading several books and having discussions with friends that are following these thought patterns. The “Just” for me, needs to become an “and”. That simplistic replacement has such a cool, profound shift.
I’m a writer and a hiker and a lover of Jane Austen and a cappuccino enthusiast and a singer and a beginning guitar player…
I think there might be something to living in the “and” world. Letting go of the “just”s, stop should-ing on ourselves. Hell, even the idea loosens up my shoulders. I’m sure we could hold a symposium and all tout our reasons to let go of that sort of bullshit in our lives. But all these intertwined readings and conversations have twirled their way to another idea brought up on one of Justin Long’s podcasts. It’s this: –
We are all born to die. And when that time comes, no matter our race, creed, color, weight, height, eye shade, astrological sign, the only thing that will be left of us is the date we were born and the date we died. But that dash in between is what we all have in common. And at the same time, it’s not common at all. Because that one little dashed line between two dates is what holds the marrow of our entire lives. All our loves, losses; highs and lows. All the good, bad and ugly of who we are. All the breathtaking vistas we view. All the laughter, tears and season changes. It’s been an interesting conversation starter, that’s for sure. What are you doing with your dash?
In my quick glances around the web-verse, I found a poem by Linda Ellis written in 1996 called “The Dash”, the poem inspired millions. The poem became a book and the book became a website and I’m not the first one to meander down this thought highway of what it means to fill out a personal well rounded dash for my gravestone.
So in case you are in need of it today, while you’re filling up your dash, give yourself a break, don’t let the “justs” get in your way and make sure you don’t “should” yourself overly much.
Thanks to my friend Adam who I was excited to meet up with for breakfast yesterday, he shared this lovely poem called “A Consideration of Knots”. I went to look for it on ye old interwebs, and found that it is also called The Knots Prayer. It seems to have different homes, but I don’t think that takes anything away from it. I’m going to keep the title Adam gave, because I love the literary bend.
A Consideration of Knots
Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.
Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind.
Erase the will nots, may nots, and might nots that may find a home in my heart.
Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all, I ask the removal from my mind, my heart and my life all of the “AM NOTS” that I have allowed to hold me back,
especially the thought that I am not good enough.