Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Go Write a Letter to Someone

When we decided to leave home and relocate across the country, my parents were enthusiastic, empathetic and encouraging.

But they were also concerned.

They knew I had a history of omitting feelings, withholding emotions and concealing the contents my inner life. And if I planned to live a thousand miles away, that lack of communication wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

You have to talk to us, they said.

Not just updates. Not just fill the in the blanks. Not just curt answers that end the conversation as quickly as possible. But real talk.

What position did I need to put myself in to commit to this?

The first answer was ritual. The conscious practice of mindfulness, the ceremonial acknowledgment of importance and the purposeful experience layered on top of an activity to focus my intention. I knew that if I could create a sacred container around an act of communication, I would stick with it.

The second answer was writing. My first love, my first language. The one thing in my life I couldn’t remember not doing. And the only place I could always go to figure out what mattered to me. I knew that if I could find a way to make writing a part of this, I would stick with it.

So I did.

Combining the two, I began a weekly ritual of writing letters to my parents. Nothing fancy. Nothing structured. Just a simple email to purge my heart and render my truth, until there was nothing left.

Everything that was going on in my life, I shared. Good and bad. Feelings, desires, fears and questions, nothing was off limits.

The folks loved it. It gave them a window into my heart and a snapshot of my life. And now, every week, they can’t wait to get that email.

More importantly, I loved it too. It cleansed me. It was a form of meditation. By writing what I felt, I learned what I knew. And now, every week, I can’t wait to send that email.

That’s how we make commitment stick.

By putting ourselves in a position that taps into the best, highest version of ourselves.