I don’t know if I believe the old saw about “only going around once” but I know the life I inhabit now is the only one I have to work with. And, as I chronicled in Sailing Down the Moonbeam, I believe you live more fully when you dwell in the moment rather than waiting for the future or longing for the past.
So why did I resonate so strongly with a chapter title — Writing is Living Twice — in Susan Weidener’s lovely memoir, Morning at Wellington Square.
It’s linked, I think, to the benefits of journaling … that by writing, we can access the deeper meaning of the events and emotions that swirl around our lives. Sometimes, that deeper meaning comes through recollections or insights that emerge as you write. Sometimes, it comes from examining the unspoken assumptions we’ve made or contradictions we’ve ignored. Sometimes, it comes from letting our imagination run free, from exploring what could be or what might have been.
I first learned that lesson, in a mostly intellectual way, during my 30+ years in the financial markets, where I often taught about complex economic or financial concepts. I discovered early on that if I couldn’t write my idea down clearly, I didn’t understand it well enough to explain it to someone else.
It was a lesson I learned again in writing Moonbeam, some twenty years after that voyage ended. For many years, for example, I recalled my months in Panama as an unscheduled diversion from the main thread of my journey, a middle life coming-of-age story. But in writing the memoir, I came to see that it was during those months in Panama that the seeds of my growth were sown and so richly fertilized. It was the first time that I had to — and was free to — build a persona without the burden of other people’s expectations. That realization permanently altered the way I think about getting through the day.
Has your writing changed the way you live your life? I would love to hear about it!