I once heard Kurt Vonnegut deliver an absolutely riveting talk. At its climactic crescendo he exclaimed, “You want to know the future? Just wait around for about five seconds. It’s happening right now. You are creating it through your every thought and intention. You want to change the world? Change your thoughts!”
I remember including this and several other kernels of Vonnegut-inspired wisdom in a presentation I gave to various writers’ groups in Kentucky. One was: “Not sure you’re a writer? Check and see if you’re writing.” In other words, aptitude alone doesn’t make you a writer; you need to make writing a daily practice.
About five years ago, a fork in my life’s path could have easily swayed me from that practice. But I chose instead to use the circumstance to deepen it… and to add a new element to my writing: intention.
In October of 2010, I had just stepped away from an adventurous career in Costa Rica to spend time with my mom in Kentucky. I knew that I would be staying with her for the rest of her life. As the marketing and communications director for a kayak ecotour operation, I had been immersed in writing every day—handling all company communications and maintaining the web site and social media program I had created.
Rather than set aside the practice of writing each day, I started this blog.
Any body of work starts with a consideration of its audience. Even if we don’t realize it, the person or group for whom an article, essay, poem or book is written is with us on a subconscious level. Sometimes we know the audience, and sometimes we write to attract an audience not yet within our sphere.
I started this blog with two audiences in mind: one general, and one very specific.
First, I wanted to keep my broad network of travel industry contacts abreast of what I was doing and to express myself personally and professionally to that global audience, which included members of The International Ecotourism Society, Sustainable Travel International and the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
Another, as yet invisible, audience was more specific: I was writing to an unseen publisher who would someday discover my work through taking the time to read this collection of reflective essays (as well as the parts of my blog that are a virtual résumé) and deem me worthy of investing in as a writer, editor and leader. This person would not just think that I was good, but would completely “get” me and fully recognize and utilize my potential to take a product or company to the next level.
I was setting an intention with the blog site. While I was putting my career on hold in order to care for my mother, I was at the same time creating a way to continually demonstrate my abilities by writing about my current role as a caregiver.
It’s good to have intentions. What is sometimes hard is waiting for the time to be right.
Many lessons were learned and incredible growth took place in the fertile ground of my commitment—though I felt hopelessly unqualified—to help my mother die and then manage her estate. I didn’t do it perfectly, nor did she. It was hard, we were awkward, but we muddled through. While I could never master patience while she was here, once she was gone, miraculously, I had somehow become a much more patient person. All along the way, I wrote about the experience. Four of my best essays came to be penned throughout four difficult seasons: the spring of my mother’s last days; the summer of her passing; the fall consumed by the luxury of grief; and the winter when I finally understood… she wasn’t really gone at all!
That last essay, Changes are shifting outside the world, tells what it was like for me to be with my mother during her transition. It concludes thus: “The way we experience time in this realm of form brings a horrible finality to this type of separation from someone we love. But, we need not lose interest in the plot as we might do when watching a movie where no transformation seems to be occurring. Change can still be going on—and who are we to say that it couldn’t be? For all I know, Mom is now on some level of the hero’s journey that is beyond my comprehension. My continued closeness to her essence gives me the impression that changes are indeed shifting outside this world and that she is still learning, growing and changing as she has always done.”
A year later, I had relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, and was trying to find a job in which I could use my writing. On the morning of February 1, 2014, I got the following response to the essay Changes are shifting outside the world.
“Beautifully stated! Your heart was opening to a wonderful knowing, love transcends all that is…. Peace of mind only comes thru the heart and is felt sometimes long before it is known. I am happy for your knowing so thoughtfully expressed.”
As I read that comment on my blog, I knew that my intention was now actualized. I had found my publisher.
And so, largely because of the events that have transpired through the act of visioning and creating my own future, I now have the great privilege to work as a magazine editor once again. It is my J.O.B. (joy of being) to direct the work of some 50 contributing writers, photographers, illustrators and members of an advisory council for a fledgling print publication that celebrates the farm-to-table culture and community in the foothills of South Carolina, western North Carolina and east Tennessee.
Because of the magnitude of energy required in this new role, I have not posted an essay on this blog for an entire year—since my marriage January 1, 2015. It is my new intention to return to this practice of blogging, even as I devote myself wholeheartedly to my role as editor of Plough to Pantry.
My audience for this blog has multiplied since my move to the Asheville area. So I write this to all my new friends, as well as all my long-time friends everywhere. I also write this essay for and dedicate it in utter thankfulness and humble appreciation to my very specific audience: To Jerry, who took the time to read, to see, and to believe.
“You want to know the future? Just wait around for about five seconds. It’s happening right now. You are creating it through your every thought and intention. You want to change the world? Change your thoughts!”
View the digital Winter edition of Plough to Pantry here: