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Figuring out who we are

Mar 6, 2014 - By Betty Starks Case

"Who I Am."

The subject is an assignment for the upcoming meeting of our Westword (not misspelled -- we're just creative) Writers group.

I'm expecting a good turnout for the meeting. Who isn't interested in correcting all the misinformation out there about his/her real self?

Telling another's life story, one member of our group reminds us, is "a sacred journey."

I agree. And I love the term. That's how I felt in sharing the Rev. Maggie Kahin's story in my book "Maggie: Set Free in The Wyoming Rockies." Especially, when her journal of heart-breaking, life-changing divorce arrived in the mail.

Fortunately for me, when I met her former husband later, he held my hand and thanked me for telling Maggie's story.

But I wonder about analyzing one's self. Might that too be a sacred journey? Should it be?

I've always felt everyone's life is a story worth telling. But to me, there must be spaces for laughter in the writing -- like one might find in horoscopes.

I'm not an avid believer in astrology, and yet, aren't we a part of this universe? Many aspects of our lives correspond to the timing of the sun and moon.

So when I see a prediction that strikes me as humorous or uniquely pertinent to my nature, I may clip and paste it to my bathroom mirror to remind me to either laugh or stay alert to the possibilities.

Consider the horoscope that read, "If you feel lost, don't be in too big of a rush to get found. Just because you don't know where you are doesn't mean you're nowhere."

That one became part of the collage on my refrigerator door, and even if you suspect I really don't know where I am, I still think it funny.

Another horoscope advises, "You have a captivating way of expressing yourself even if the information you're sharing is as simple as the weather."

Simple? Whenever I've tried to comment on weather this winter, by the time the column sees print the next day, readers must dig it out of a snowbank.

Captivating? Just the doing captivates me. Writing is a lot like art, music, dancing and other creative leanings. It's sort of a built-in therapy. It's been said we do it because the act of creating is just as important as the creation.

When we were age 6 or 7, we understood when we were encouraged to draw, sing, paint or dance, that being good at it was irrelevant. Just do it. Have fun. Feel free.

As we grew older, we found most creative pursuits were tethered to achievement expected to lead to professional, probably monetary, gain.

American poet and political activist Muriel Rukeyser appears to make an effort to undo that perceived wrong when she declares, "The universe is made of stories, not atoms."

Muriel's philosophy reminds me of my father, who, as I've written before, created poems about his children when we were small -- in perfect rhyme and meter as the words rolled off his tongue. Today, I'm quite sure his spontaneous poetry and stories made me aware of the beauty and grace of words that I enjoy today.

On a recent evening, Dr. Wayne Dyer, the famous self-help author and motivational speaker appeared on the PBS fundraising program to share his lifetime experience and education on life, learning, and yes -- writing!

Strangely, Dr. Dyer, who teaches that "Everything on Earth has a purpose -- there's cause and effect in everything," appeared just as I'd seated myself in a comfortable chair with lap desk and pen to edit this column's possible lack of clarity and/or continuity.

I agree with much of what the good doctor teaches. But it seemed he sort of talked himself into a corner with the philosophy that "There are no accidents or coincidences -- it's all planned for us before we're born," then insisted, "You create your own destiny."

Maybe he meant recognize "the plan" and go with it. Or deal with results of your own.

He also said he'd been advised long ago to "Write. Write. Write," and did.

So now, with the help of a few horoscopes, the knowledge that I create my own destiny even when my sacred journey is all pre-planned, maybe I can put together a short essay before the next meeting of Westword Writers.

Maybe I'll figure out Who I Am.

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