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Naming the Silence

Margins of planners. Notebooks. Arms. Chairs. Bookshelves. Trees. Rocks. Napkins.

Any blank space as an invitation for my pen. I scratched out song lyrics and lecture highlights, webbed thought-explorations, inked out feelings I wanted to examine, captured quotes from all my favorite authors, promised friends that I loved them, tested forms and the boundaries of letter-making. Apparently, active minds trapped in not-quite-stimulating-enough places frequently free themselves through ink on a page…though usually the context is an imprisoned visionary rather than an ordinary teenager in some extra-ordinary suburbs.

What I’m getting at is that I used to be A Writer. It’s the most recent awareness on my [metaphorical] personal-growth CMB: I used to be a writer, and I have stopped writing.

As a newbie ALC, I used to journal and blog and doodle-meditate. As a full-time facilitator, co-director and administrator, parent resource, regional coordinator, training organizer, event planner, network schemer, finance juggler, partnership builder, field trip guru, and pragmatic visionary, I…write meeting notes and emails.

Not to knock it…My notes are clear and precise; my emails occasionally become exquisitely crafted masterpieces. Writing is–still, somehow–one of my superpowers.

And I still doodle my meditations, but only when I really need to pull my thoughts out so I can see them clearly or at milestones (I’ll probably do some to open and close spring break this year). Is that a kind of writing that ‘counts’ as ‘sharable value’? IDK.

As I’ve learned and practiced more and more that would be useful to document and share, I’ve been immersing myself in the ‘doing’ and keeping the ‘reflecting’ mostly to myself.

This struck me last week while thinking about an enrollment puzzle and simultaneously reworking an Annual Report draft: I can’t calm anxieties or reassuringly cite accounts if the words are sitting in my drafts folder or in the back of my head.

It struck me again while reading @drew’s blog post last week, when I realized he couldn’t know how I identify (to be clear: not as an overworked volunteer, but increasingly as a leader) and couldn’t know that in November I took on some of the work he’s presently calling for. I didn’t broadcast beyond the people I regularly speak to, so we missed months of potential collaboration.

Finally, it struck me on the phone with my parents last night, when they asked point blank how anyone outside ALC-NYC is supposed to track, weigh, attribute, apply, and learn from my work if I’m not writing. And they follow me on social media enough to get all the snapshots I do think to post!

Awareness, that’s three times in a week. I hear you. ALFs, [after a anti-colonialist pause to assert that non-written histories and un-recordable expressions have as much weight and power as those that are written/recordable] I owe you. The analogy of a Reddit lurker doesn’t quite fit here, but rather than search for an accurate analogy I’m going to skip ahead and just declare an intention to change. I have check-lists and templates and spreadsheets and anecdotes and research and rituals and counsel. I have meeting notes and meditations that you may be interested in excerpts from. I have wild ideas and more reasonable ideas–as the local folks I’m constantly in communication with are well aware–and so. much. experience. And none of it moves the world unless I share.

When I was A Writer, I read that with every word read a reader gifts an author an irreplaceable instant of their life. Many lifetimes later, I still worry before hitting publish about whether I could ever write anything worthy of such a gift. I mean…really. That said, oh anonymous internet reader of the future, here’s my pledge to trust your generosity, to trust you to walk away from what hasn’t earned your headspace, and to start broadcasting more widely by giving at least two days this April to making offerings of blog posts to cyber ALC-land. Small steps for now, but I need a light way to start.

Slowly reclaiming all those literacies I was schooled out of…

Meanwhile, here’s to blank pages, creative punctuation, and ever changing seasons.

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