What I’ve Learned

So, I just spent the weekend here in San Francisco, attending a conference. Not just any conference, but the Conference for Global Transformation. And not just any Conference for Global Transformation (like there’s more than one?) but the one in which I presented a poster and wrote a couple of articles and generally let myself be known, just a little bit.

My poster session was on Saturday morning, so I was relieved to get that out of the way. What I discovered from it was that I had something to say, and that the message wanted to be listened to. My poster was about blogging, and instead of merely saying what it was, I tried to think of things to mention that are the sorts of things you only ever figure out once you’ve been doing it for a bit. Like commenting to blogs is the equivalent of a dialogue, and blogrolls are an expression of your cyber community, and that lurking is okay, and what the majority of blog readers are actually doing. I even went on at length about the legal ramifications of blogging, and realized I might be scaring people with that sort of information, but it needed to be said. And finally, as the easiest piece of wisdom I could pass on to someone who is thinking about blogging, to simply read other blogs and see what does and doesn’t work about them. In fact, to read other blogs about the subject interested in writing about is a really, really good idea. What could they contribute that would be needed in addition to the conversations already present on the web?

There was more, and I added a bit of humor here and there, and such. It was a seven minute power point presentation. And although I could (and should) have put a lot more time into the actual powerpoint presentation part, I was satisfied with it. Simple. Understandable message. Done.

As soon as I actually set it up, I realized I hadn’t given any form of a 3 or 30 second version, so people looking at the other posters could decide instantly if mine were something they wanted to spend any time looking at. I had printed all the slides out and put them in a notebook, so people coming in the middle of the slideshow could skim the content. I could have printed more notebooks. I could have created a display that communicated the main points I outlined above, behind the slideshow, for the quick glance. I could have, should have…. but I hadn’t. And it was okay. I spoke with people. People spoke with me. I was able to alleviate some people’s fears and confusions. I was able to communicate important points I thought people should know. I was viewed as an expert in something I don’t feel very expert in, because I don’t know everything. I don’t know how to set up RSS feeds. Yet. I don’t know how to code in html, but I do know what the acronym stands for. And these days, not knowing html is not a detriment like it used to be. (Okay, I know a little html.) One person, whose opinion I respect because he carries himself as an expert on other matters, who himself blogs, told me I was communicating important stuff. Another person, whose opinion I respect because she is very well practiced in what the conference is up to, told me that what I was presenting should be gotten out more effectively, perhaps in a paper or a workshop at a future conference. Perhaps at next year’s conference.

And then the 75 minutes for the posters was done, and it had flown by. I had merely talked, listened, explained, offered advice, and it was easy. Oh so easy to open my mouth and let the information I know flow out. Why had I thought this would be difficult? Why had I thought this would be painful to converse with others?

Why had I kept myself so small?

The very end of the course I have been in since September ended immediately following the conclusion of the conference. The group I had been in, the area of the world I wish to take on transforming in the world, was the area of Art & Creativity. Our group had decided to create a thank you for the program leaders, and in addition to a beautifully designed oversized card, performed a song and skit and even danced. I ran across in front of the stage with a sign telling the audience to applaude. Yay! And I wrote the articles that the course leaders, just like we in the course, had had to read about ourselves every class weekend, written by others from what we had reported in between the weekends of the course.

And people laughed. People were moved. I nailed it. I wrote the words that caused that to happen. Everyone was laughing and smiling and cheering, including the course leaders.

People who knew I had written those words came up to me afterwards and told me I was devilishly sneaky. I’m quiet, and who would have thought those words would come from me? Who knew I was talented in yet another way? One woman who had shared throughout the course and was a natural comedienne, told me if she had known I was capable of that, she would have hung out with me, that I was a hoot. I got thanked and acknowledged from various people, for what I had written.

I got known. I am a writer.

I knew it before, but I forgot. I know it in my heart, in my soul, but I don’t let it out. I don’t let others see it. I have never submitted anything for publication. I just don’t want to be rejected. I have always written, and always will, but I just have never been sure if it made any difference to anyone else. And I always thought I would be devastated if I found that it didn’t. So it was easier to not know, than to know and allow a passion to die.

And as much as I have always encouraged others to be creative and express themselves, it was really I that I was encouraging, trying to coax out of the darkness and into the light.

And here I did, as part of a group collaboration, still with my exact identity hidden, in case it bombed, and it turned out okay. It turned out better than okay. It turned out great.

And so, there really is no excuse not to devote myself to the writing that I have always aspired to do, finish the half begun novels I have hidden in drawers, and allow myself to be used by the talents I have kept safe from most others, from anyone I thought might be critical or worse, indifferent.

The one thing I wanted to get out of my taking the Power and Contribution Course that started in September, was the answer to the question what do I want to do with my life? And now I am sure, that I need to honor what comes naturally to me, what I have resisted because at times it has seemed too easy and thus isn’t work and isn’t worth pursuing…  

I am a writer, damn it! And that’s what I will be doing with the rest of my life. I have found my purpose, if I ever really, truly doubted it.

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2 Responses to “What I’ve Learned”

  1. Carol Elaine Says:

    Hell yes, you’re a writer! It’s so easy to lose sight of that (heaven knows I do all too often), but it’s good that you’ve refound your purpose. Keep on keeping on, my friend.

  2. gary Says:

    …and you’re a very good writer!

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