Buried Treasure

On this beautiful sunny midwest morning (hey, do I sound like I’m from California??), I had the joy of speaking about therapeutic writing to a group of folks at Generations of Hope, a very cool multi-generational community.  At Generations of Hope,”children adopted from foster care find permanent and loving homes, as well as grandparents, playmates and an entire neighborhood designed to help them grow up in a secure and nurturing environment.”  This morning at Hope Meadows, we talked about writing, about how it needs compassion about self-permission in order to thrive.  Going through the world with an open and watchful heart really helps too.  And then they asked me the question everyone asks about ongoing writing which is, “How do I find time to do it?”  Here is the secret to answering this question…

The secret is that this is almost never a question about time; it is a question about fear.  When we ask how do I find time to write, what we are really asking is, “How can I start doing something that I think I’d like to do, but I’m terrified that I will be incredibly horrible at?”  And because we tend to associate creative acts with exceptional skill and self-confidence, we are ALSO asking, “Why on earth would anyone want to read what I write, or hear what I have to say?” 

It’s not about time.  It’s about letting fear hold love hostage.  So the poems written by the woman who just had a stroke and lost her adult granddaughter stay hidden in her desk.  Or the memoir of the man who wants to make up for the fact that he didn’t listen to his own grandfather’s life story before he died may remain unwritten, unshared with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Buried treasure.

Inspired by my visit this morning, I have challenge for you.  It’s to do this very short writing activity, the one with which we started the morning’s group:  write a single descriptive sentence of anything that you noticed today.  One sentence.  About anything.  Then send it in as a reply to this post.  This is not about skill; it’s about paying attention.  Or of saying, in a small, self-loving way, “I am here.”  I once heard Carrie Newcomer say that being a writer is like making a contract with the universe:  “I will be here.  And I will pay attention.”

I’m looking forward to your replies!  Especially those of you who are already deciding that you don’t have anything to say, or you’ll sound stupid, or some other self-defeating thought.  I will love you for it, and I’ll do that for as long as it takes for you to love yourself for it, or for any other creative act that you are working on.  I promise.


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for –
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Mary Oliver

@Thea Schrack (theaschrak.com)

17 thoughts on “Buried Treasure

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  1. Very early this morning, as I sat on my porch sipping my delicious wild mountain blueberry coffee, while the rain trickled down, I noticed a brown bunny hopping across my lawn. My first two thoughts – I’m not the only nut up this early and spring is coming!!! It made me feel happy!


  2. This morning on a country walk, I looked at the tall sentries of electric power poles which marched down through the valley between the towering pine trees on either side; there, right in that acidic valley soil, grow the best blue berries for July picking.

    Thanks, Leslie


  3. My husband asked me to explain a poem that I wrote. I realized that it would mean much more to me if he would sit in contemplation with it, than have the depths of my thoughts just handed to him.


  4. Today when I called home from work, I heard my boys’ chatter and laughter in the background while they were playing. Normally it sounds like mayhem is about to ensue, but today all I heard was sheer joy in their voices and all I felt was warmth in my heart.


  5. Today I woke up and read a blurb online about how we Seattle people can take comfort that this week has brought a sure sign of spring: the sky is “lighter shades of gray”. So I tried to note throughout the day if the sky seemed less gray to me. At times, yes. At other times, no.


  6. I was so much relieved today morning when our foreign minister said on radio that he doesn’t want to join in an airstrike in Libya and not at all German troops on the ground there.

    Thank you, Leslie!


  7. I saw the number and knew who was calling, I didn’t pick up the phone because I was too busy to get involved in a long conversation and really didn’t want to take the time to listen. When I played the voicemail back and heard the message – just called to say “Hi” and “I love you”, I felt like a jerk. A jerk who is loved. Between the phone message and this post, I get it – wake up, don’t be so “busy” you miss your life.


  8. The three and four year old girls and boys in bright green shirts and shiny green Mardi Gras beads squishing their hands in green playdough.


  9. Today I went outside to dig up weeds in the garden and noticed that I really enjoyed speaking to my neighbor who never misses an opportunity to talk to me! Spring is almost here.. I saw daffodils:)


  10. tonight i noticed my mother change the subject soon after she started to cry when talking about her brother-in-law who is dying. i noticed myself not fading away and telling her she didn’t need to change the subject


  11. Today I noticed a small mound of snow in the parking lot at County Market which was very surprising since I hadn’t seen any snow for a few weeks.


  12. Today, my son and I noticed how all the snow is melted off the lawns on the sunny side of the street, but piles and drifts remain on the shady side.


  13. I saw the sun rise in my rear view mirror as I hurried into the dark and into work. As I saw the sun rise all I wanted do to want to run into the sun rise, however the mortgage, electricity, cable and phone needed to be paid. I miss the carefree spring break days of yesterday.


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