What I really want to do is make something that matters, something bigger than myself. I want to make something that matters to me and find the other people to whom it also matters. And I believe if the thing matters to me, I can find others to whom it also matters.
When I think about, for instance, the memoir my sister and I are writing about our dad, the meaning I take from going through the end of his life with him is found in the shift of my outlook on the world. I was changed, and I also deliberately chose to make some changes. It turns out I have power within me that we all have that we don’t all use. We all have untapped power that we tend to ignore or let decay. I do that, anyway.
Most of the time I am more potential energy and much less kinetic energy. All I want is some momentum. (It makes me feel very very happy that I learned something in physics class so long ago that still means something to me that I can use now.)
I’m at the peak of my powers; I know more than I have ever known; I am more open and vulnerable; I’m more creative, I have more creative understanding of the world; I’m synthesizing the knowledge that I’ve gained over time.
Yes, I nap more. And yes, I understand the value of stillness and silence more than I did when I was younger. I understand the value but that doesn’t mean I like it. Or that I cease to envy those whose youthful energy reserves take the place of planning.
I’m capable Right Now of making something that is bigger than myself. The major barrier to that is lack of trust. Lack of trust in myself and in my own ideas and in my process. Not only do I need to give myself more trust but I need to trust other people more. It is easier for me to endow others with confidence that I don’t feel within myself. I can teach med students how to give a pelvic exam without freaking out. Maybe not all of them, but many of them. And not everyone can do that specific thing. With her own pelvis.
My talents are unique, and when I’m gone, my talents will be gone. With Dad, I learned that memories, inflections, and associations were the things that disappeared when he disappeared. There’s nobody left who sees the world the way he did, but he imparted his perspective in different ways on everyone he met, he sowed the seeds or infected us with a particular virus, and that’s the ripple effect we talk about, where it is so many overlapping ripples. Among the ripples I carry are Dad’s ripples, and Dad’s ripples are carried by other people. And thus is the history of humanity passed along.
And thus do I turn to my sister feeling a Dad expression on my face.
We’re all connected, and the belief that we’re not connected is a lie. The truth is that when you open your heart, the world is infinitely knowable. So many hearts that are hard to understand, other people’s cruelties and hatreds and prejudices, other people’s loves. The way to move forward and to respect yourself is to hold an open space for other people, even when you suspect they’re wrong. You can take a position, but hold a place for doubt.
And hold a huge place for doubting that you are worthless. Let that place grow bigger and bigger, the doubt in your worthlessness. It’s the same as the belief in your beauty. You and I can make powerful beautiful wonderful things, we simply need support and help from other people.
I believe that you and I need to draw on the best of ourselves and on our great strengths, and I will. Will you?
We need each other’s help. I’m asking. Are you ready to ask?
I hereby commit to making something bigger than myself. Do you?