Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
This is what happens each time I sit to write. I ask myself to look at life straight, without skipping over the shadow places, or pretending I don’t hear what I hear, or see what I see.
I ask my courage to dive deep into dark waters with eyes wide open when my tendency is to turn away, protect or avoid. Warning lights flash in my belly. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe. I tell myself it’s not too late to turn back. But I go there, because if I am successful, I won’t have to live above the swamp. I can drain it, release the power of the underworld and add sunshine.
To look again at what was, is to open my memory to sights and sounds and smells I have masterfully put aside. My mind tells me to cut off the past like a dead limb, because there is simply no point, no useful purpose. Look ahead, it tells me. Plan the future. My mind tries to be nice to me, to do me a favor and keep me out of trouble. I appreciate it, but I can’t move forward as long as there is unfinished business.
I pride myself on having created, against all odds, a body of water that is clear and calm. Why would I stir it up with memories of the past? Not just stir it up, but keep my eyes wide open. My mind directs me to sunny beaches in Mexico, while my emotions direct me to the business of truth telling.
I reach for Hershey’s kisses. Little pieces of chocolate wrapped in shiny golden paper with an almond hidden within. I’m allergic to chocolate, but the almond eases the guilt. If I listen to the language of the heart, it’s telling me that I need some kisses, whether or not I can digest them, and not only do I need them, I need them now. Not after the next paragraph. Kisses can’t wait.
Writing memoir brings up issues of privacy and loyalty. Do I want others to know my history? Will I lose power or gain it by revealing myself? The past is not the present. Is it fair to portray what was frozen in my personal archives? Surely, everyone experienced our time together differently. Each person is a country in and of themselves. Is it fair in revealing my memories to expose, accurately or inaccurately, the personal landscape of others? Will I be seen as an alien invader? Most certainly, I will. I intend to see with honest eyes, but whose version of the truth is revealed? I commit to write, and ask for forgiveness if my version of the truth offends those living or those already in the spirit world. Sometimes I hesitate to recall memories for fear it would pull on the spirit of another in a negative way, when what is called for is forgiveness. All these things are considered and felt when we open the door to deep diving.