Monday, April 09, 2007

Strange Weather and Perspective

It was a strange weekend almost everywhere in the US in terms of weather. There was sleet and even snow in places that normally are in the 70s and 80s at this time of year. The weather wiped out lots of outdoor activities and required adjustments in others.

It would be easy to see only the drawbacks of this weather here on Easter Sunday. Instead, I found myself thinking what a difference perspective makes. Had I still been living in New Jersey, I would have been moaning over the gray skies and rain and sleet and wondering if spring would ever come. Because I was here instead, where we’ve had a drought the past couple of years and because I remember so vividly last August when it was over 100 every day except the two when the high only hit 99, I found myself grateful for the rain, knowing how much it is needed. I found myself trusting that the sun would soon be back out and the warmth back in the air.

I mention all of this because writing is a crazy business and it’s easy to focus on all the things could or are going wrong. What if we, as writers, instead focused on what was right about being writers? What if we focused on the joy of creating our stories, the opportunity to reach hearts and minds, the chance to try new things when one line closes—the one that perhaps we had pinned our hopes upon?

What if we extended that to our every day lives? What if each day we looked for what was good and could make us smile and feel grateful? What if we allowed ourselves to find moments of joy even on days that seem bleak? What if we looked for the possibilities in each new challenge?

Spring is a time of rebirth. For ourselves, what if each spring we looked at this as a time to recreate our lives anew? What if we looked at it as a time to let go of old assumptions—about ourselves, the world, what is and isn’t possible, and the stories we can tell and how we can tell them?

It is useful, I believe, for each of us to have a list of our strengths and a list of all the past successes in our lives. These lists are reminders of the tools we have to draw upon to make changes, to reach for our goals, and reasons to believe we can succeed. And study after study proves that our expectations have the power to determine our future.

The rain and sleet and cold here this past weekend were a reminder to me that even when the weather seems fine, there can suddenly be a burst of uncomfortable days—but even that discomfort may serve a useful purpose. It also reminded me that when the weather is horrible it is an opportunity to creatively find new ways to do what I want to do or to find something else to do that I might enjoy just as much.

Writing and life—as Barbara Samuels said in a speech a few years ago—these are inextricably entwined for those of us who are writers. Wishing all of you faith in yourselves and moments of joy every day—both in life and (if you are writers) in your writing.