I went out to start my car this morning and the battery was dead. My daughter had taken the car and left the interior overhead light on all night. So I called AAA, and soon a young man with a local tow service arrived to jump-start my car. It took him all of about five minutes to do the job, and I noticed, with a lot of appreciation, how helpful and eager he was to please.
So I asked him, “Do you like your job?”
“I love my job,” he said. “I love helping people. Just yesterday I was at a local gas station and someone there needed help with their battery. I wasn’t even called in, but I was there, so I offered to help. It made me feel good.”
Wow, I thought. A guy who loves to help others, and has a giving heart. More important, he loves what he does. So often we hear people complain about their awful jobs, the terrible things they have to endure in life, the unfairness of it all. And here is this sweet young guy who loves his job with a towing service. Loves helping people. Loves being of service.
But don’t we all want to be of service? To help in some way? Whether it is helping the widow down the block get her groceries home, or helping humanity understand some new human insight through our writing, deep down we all want to help.
It made me think about why I write.
It certainly isn’t lucrative. There’s little glamour in it. No one is knocking at my door offering a stint on Oprah’s OWN network. But still I write.
Why? To express something that nags at my insides. To try, in a small way, to influence the course of events in my life, and perhaps others’. To inspire. To assure. To commiserate. To connect with others in a way that would never happen in the course of a normal lifetime.
I love what I do. I love writing and teaching and connecting with other writers. I love encouraging others to keep going, to keep writing, to keep pursuing their dreams. To keep going no matter what. Without persistence, nothing would be achieved.
January is a time to consider renewal, rebirth. We make resolutions we have no intention of keeping. But the idea of considering change is powerful. Consider a new path. Consider changing the course of your life. Consider remaking yourself. Consider the possibilities that come with re-creation.
At the dawn of 2013, I have been remade. I sought renewal three years ago when my life was in shambles and was rewarded with a new life enervated by writing and learning. Went back to school to earn an MFA. Wrote a memoir that tore at my soul until I could no longer ignore it. Answered the question: Who am I? Here is a poem I wrote in that process.
My name is Marcia.
My name means nothing.
I am no longer a child.
I am a snowy white heron
swooping over the dunes,
great wings beating upon warm air.
I am a cheetah, graceful, fierce,
moving over verdant plains.
Watching. Watching. Watching.
I am a great horned owl, perched
in the top branches of a pinon pine.
Small beasts wander out at their peril.
I am a dark crevice,
deep and sharp, piercing the cliff,
pushing the ground asunder.
I am the soft underbelly
of a small white
rabbit, like cashmere.
Go ahead. Touch me.
What are you? Are you the heron or the crevice? Are you in the process of renewal? Do you practice the gift of writing every day? Because that is what writing is, a gift to yourself, and to others. What you have to say matters. It will touch others in ways you cannot imagine. It is not up to you to decide whether to share your gift. It is required. If you do not, you do a disservice to yourself and to humanity, to that one individual your writing may touch and change forever.
Write. Share. Contribute. You are obligated, like the tow service guy, to share your gifts and help others. And in the process you may be renewed.