Why I Write
When I was seven, living at camp with my family, I was gifted a baby bunny that had been saved from the camp lawn mower. I was thrilled to take the little being in my hands, feel its rapid heartbeat. I found the bunny a home in a box, which I made quite comfy with grasses, leaves, and dirt. I was so ready to protect and nurture the little being. I sat beside that box for hours watching the bunny breathe and sleep.
Late in the day, my Mom called me to go to dinner. We had to leave our cabin for the lodge. I would be gone for at least an hour or more. I knew I needed to protect the bunny from our dog and the camp cat. So I put the box in our car. Off, I went to dinner. When I returned, I found the baby bunny very still, clearly not breathing, yes, dead. The car had gotten too hot. I was devastated. I couldn’t find words for what I was feeling. The horror that I had killed the little baby bunny was overwhelming. I didn’t speak about it. I went quiet for days. I silently buried the bunny. I didn’t know how to come back from such a mistake and loss.
In the fall, when I returned to school, my teacher asked us all to write about our summer. On that blank sheet of paper, I reclaimed my heart. I wrote about the joy I felt with a new life in my care, the pleasure of creating a home for it, and the hours of being a protector. I wrote about the tragic choice to put the little bunny in the car, a decision made with good intent that went horribly wrong, and finally, the pain of holding that little lifeless bunny.
The piece wasn’t long. It was a series of simple seven-year-old words, with some words missing and some misspelled. Yet those words captured the life and death of my bunny and my emotional process. When my teacher chose to read my piece, and I heard my words, I finally cried. My life returned. The pain was freed to live forward.
Since that first piece, I have used writing as a path to process the stories of my life that otherwise would have shut me down. When I write my heart opens. My defenses drop, and the armor that I have used to survive, begins to melt.
When I was dealing with cancer at 24, I wrote to wrestle with the gods about fairness. When I was dealing with nightmares and memories from my childhood, I used prose to share the pain that was trapped in my cells. When I lead a Come Alive, I am holding a space in a circle for peoples’ stories. I write then to find my heart, clear my mind, so that I can stay present and connect with their world, not stay stuck in mine.
Writing frees my emotions, and clears my pain so that the dark spots get the needed light to live forward. Writing allows the broken pieces to reform and become art.
I have wrestled with whether or not to write a book, but my path seems to be more an on-going river of short pieces.
I had never called myself a “writer” because my written words were rarely kept. I’d share them in circles and with friends. In the sharing my armor would finally soften, and the stories would melt away. That still seems to be the heart of my purpose in writing.
Maybe someday I will bring the pieces together, and a book will emerge. Maybe the pieces will remain fragments in a blog post, a newsletter, a poem, or a piece shared to honor a friend’s passing. I am uncertain. I just know I am a better person when I write. My defenses drop and my heart opens when I let the words find a place on a page. The cracks those words create, let the light in and my broken heart beats on.
The memory of a baby bunny’s journey in my hands is complete – life and death, joy and sorrow. No hero. No happy-ever-after ending – real, raw and messy, human after all.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke
Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict
CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.
They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.
Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.