Awe, the universe and writing


It’s so easy to get caught up in things that don’t matter. The world gets under your skin quickly and without you even knowing it. You begin to think that the fleeting things in your life are the ones that matter. You get caught up in competition, in where you should be in your life, of climbing the proverbial ladder.

I say you. But, I really mean ME. I do all of these things. I am flawed. I forget about my gift. I take it for granted. But, all it takes is a little refocusing of the lens and I remember what is truly important in my life.

Vacation is a great way to step outside of yourself, to get out of your routine and, of course, to learn about the world outside of your normal scope of experience. If you’ve kept up with my blog, you likely know how important I view vacation for building experiences, for doing research, for writing and so much more. It also serves as a good reminder and helps to reground me.

Lately, I’ve been pushing away from my writing. I’ve wanted to get away from being a writer altogether. Writers don’t move up the corporate ladder. Writers don’t become leaders (well, unless they stop being writers). In many places, writers are unseen. I expect people in all types of roles or artistic fields feel that way though.

I often feel unseen when it comes to my books. Year after year, day after day, I put in hours of effort into my projects with the dream of growing a base of readers, of getting reviews, of having dialogues with readers and others…but it just doesn’t happen. And at times, as you other writers know, this gets you down. It makes you wonder: “why am I even doing this?” When I hit those feelings, I know it’s time to get away and reorient.

Last weekend, my fiance and I went to Santa Fe to visit my artist aunt and uncle. They live way out in the desert in one of those adobe houses that mysteriously stay comfortable even through the blazing heat of the day. We ended up staying late into the evening talking. But when we stepped outside to get in the car to go back to our hotel, I stopped and looked up and felt that deep, primal and tingly feeling of awe.

There were so many stars. And each minute longer that we stood there and my eyes adjusted, more and more of them came into view. We picked out the constellations and breathed the cool desert night air — and we just existed together, me, my fiance and my uncle.

While staring up, my uncle pointed out the Milky Way. I turned my head and took in the wash of dusty light intermixed with a cascade of stars, delighted to witness it for the first time. And in those tiny pinpricks of light and in the dark spaces between them, I remembered, finally (if even just for a moment), what is truly important.

I remembered that my writing is a gift, given to me by the universe or God or whomever. It is the one thing of beauty that I have to offer to the world. It is my one way of reflecting the dazzling world in which we live. And in all that vastness, I also remembered that while there are hundreds of thousands of people out there in the world who have my same dream, I am the only me. My writing style, voice, and way with words is unparalleled – not because I’m a literary genius, but because I am the only one who looks at the world with the exact lens that I do (and the same goes for you!).

The day after we got home, I came across an article by NBC called “Why scientists say experiencing awe can help you live your best life.” It’s funny that this article popped up the following day. The universe likes to plop things in my lap like that though. Just in case I didn’t get it the first time, I guess 🙂

“One important distinction between awe and other emotions (like inspiration or surprise) is that awe makes us feel small — or feel a sense of “self-diminishment” in science-speak. And that’s good for us” the article tells us. That’s exactly how I felt as I looked up at the sky in the middle of the desert. Small. And yet, a part of something huge and beautiful and temporary.

Then the article continues: “We spend a lot of our time thinking about what’s going on in our world and what’s affecting us directly. ‘Awe changes that, making us see ourselves as a small piece of something larger.’”

And it’s true. When I stopped and looked up, everything else fell away. The desire to be seen more. The desire move up. The desire for recognition. Instead, I just felt this deep desire to write, to plug into that beauty, to be a part of it in the best way I know how with the gift I know well and sometimes take for granted. And I remembered that bone-chilling thrill of writing something beautiful when the words fit together just right, of creating my own universes, of building new lives and living out other adventures — and beneath all of that, living each facet of those shiny lives I spin because they are each a part of me and who I am even as I sit with my hands poised over a keyboard or my fingers curled around a pen and my mind a million miles away.

Photo by Philippe Donn from Pexels (my camera doesn’t have the power to capture stars in the dark. So thank you Pexels and Philippe!)

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