Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ad Nauseum

Sometimes I am hesitant to write or talk about matters close to my heart.

This hesitation stems from a fear that my writing, my thoughts, my life is all one big plagiarization. It's true: subjects and issues close to my heart are very often close to the hearts of many others as well ... close to the hearts of people who started their blog a long time ago, or wrote a book, or went on TV ... or talked your freakin' ear off at last week's playgroup.

In other words, I fear I can't bring anything new or original to the table. I never took Latin but ad nauseum and nausea seem too close to be purely coincidental.
 Shut Your Mouth', Eda Akaltun, 2008

But lately some events have blown the lid clean off of my writer's block and rendered this fear obsolete. By drawing information and inspiration from many sources, I now see how this connects us. It allows us to share, to make the whole greater than the sum of our parts. I'm finding the highest level of learning occurs during synthesis after all. Here's what has led to this personal enlightenment:

+ A post about the subject of originality written by my cousin. Read it yourself for the details, but what I took away is the fact that fear of unoriginality can tie you up, keep you from doing anything.
The truth is: yes, it probably HAS been done -- and that's okay. Apparently there is even a verse about it the Bible. That totally takes the pressure off!

+ Secondly, I got introduced to Joseph Campbell. And my life will never be the same. This genius took the concept of universal themes to an unprecedented level. He found a common thread in myth and story, written across time and space by disparate people in far away places. What this revealed about our collective fears, questions, and experiences is life-affirming, and amazing. In "Hero with a Thousand Faces" he asks ...

"What is the secret of the timeless vision? From what profundity of the mind does it derive? Why is mythology everywhere the same, beneath its varieties of costume? And what does it teach?

+ Lastly, the comments generated from past posts, "brainfood" and "gin and dystonic," really blew my mind. A hundred billion bottles have washed up on the shore and it seems we are not alone at feeling alone. The messages in these bottles (i.e., comment section) had a connecting theme: we are all afraid. Afraid of our own crazy measurements and standards, afraid of judgment (our own and others) and, GOD FORBID, putting something out that isn't THE best.

That we have shared experience AND the drive to make meaning out of our experiences isn't lame, or cliche, or unoriginal. It essentially and fundamentally human. By offering my thoughts and experiences, I am participating in humanity. That's not nauseating; it's powerful. (Well, the experience of writing this is powerful for me -- while reading, you may occasionally feel a bit sick to your stomach).

We don't live our lives in our head, or at least we shouldn't. Out here in the real world is where we are making connections ... where we are the most alive. I am so deeply grateful to be making those connections with my friends and readers.

We all keep our mouths shut when we feel like opening them. Maybe we fear what we have to say isn't smart enough or original enough. Whatever your reasons are, throw them out! And throw down your ideas. I want to hear what "universal themes" are present your life. What moves or touches you about your experiences as a parent or about our collective humanity?

P.S. This post has been gestating for months. I would like to dedicate its birth to my friend and favorite vagabond as he embarks on a nomadic journey. Here's wishing you a happy, safe, and globally meaningful journey,Chris! Follow his travles here:


  1. Aw, thanks, L.E.! I love being the object of a good dedication! Also, interesting post. It comes just as I'm wrestling with the potential of volunteer work in my travels. After you sent me the link for Lisa over at... first thought actually was, "Oh, hmm. It's been done before. I guess I'll find something else." Talk about synchronicity. :)

  2. The simple fact that I AM a parent touches my heart...we had such a difficult time getting her here, then keeping her here, that I feel (as all parents do/should) that she is such a gift. W

    hen I think about the love and trust she has for me, I'm humbled. I have such a responsibility to her, and I know I don't always live up to that. I spend too much time on the computer, too much time nagging, too much time wishing for a little peace and quiet. Ultimately, though, I know she knows I love her.

    I believe God gave her to us in the manner He did to make sure I never take her for granted (not that I think I would have), and so I have a heightened awareness of just what a gift she is! I marvel at everything she does...and when I look around me, I see children who have parents that hardly even know they are there, or worse yet, resent the fact that they are there. I guess that's another beauty of parenting--I have a deeper appreciation of ALL children.

  3. I love these responses. Chris, I too am learning to be less dismissive. I am bit taken aback at my automatic dismiss response, at least now I can cross the "been done before" reason off. Could it be that makes it even better? Or at least it gives us the benefit of a field guide. As you said in your last post, life is so vague, it sure does help to have some tips along the way.

    Shellody-wow, write a moving response why don't you? Geez there isn't even a crappy burned cd give away this week. I love how you made universal application out of the love you have for your child. It makes it even more meaningful. Thank you guys!

  4. Jeez Shellody--what a great response! I loved reading your thoughts on this post.

    You wanna know something I love about being a parent? I love that it has deepened my relationship with my husband even further. There is something so special about knowing that nobody on earth loves these little people as much as we do. We would probably bore the ears off random people in our lives by telling stories of things our children said & did, but these same stories warm our hearts & are thrilling when we share them with each other. It goes without saying that being the mom of Jack & George is the biggest blessing of my life, but what a neat bonus blessing to get to share this experience with my partner in crime.

  5. Talk about synchronicity... again! I have just this morning been struggling with the originality factor myself. And not only original from others, but original to my own writing. Am I just repeating myself, "ad nauseum," or do I have something new to offer? I'm actually hesitant to Google the current idea I have, afraid that's it's already been done and that I'll talk myself out of writing it.

    Ooh, ugly pride. Why should it matter whether it's been done unless I'm looking for approval and validation for having come up with an original and creative viewpoint? Guilty.

    What I must remember is that God made no two of us alike, so even though we share thoughts and inspirations, no two thoughts or inspirations will ever express themselves exactly the same.

    My present "theme" continues to be perspective and my present struggle continues to be getting my focus off myself. Parenting is certainly helpful for this, as our kids' needs instinctively trump our own. But in the social arena, parenting sets up a whole new minefield of standards and measurements and judgments to navigate. Do I want my kids to behave in a certain way because that's really what's best for them in that situation, or is it because I (probably falsely) believe all eyes are on me, watching to see if I'll succeed or fail in getting them to comply? Unfortunately, my answer to that question is more often than not, the latter.

    Thanks again Lesa, for your timely and encouraging insights. I'm going to run with my ideas... original or not!

  6. I love your point about the expressions being different, there is a duality of common/unique: there is the common or shared experience and then what happens when we run it through our unique brain and leave our fingerprint on it. There is just so much value in sharing, and also value in revisiting. How many times does Jesus reiterate messages about love or forgiveness? And some of my favorite Buddhist teachings are just expressions of love and acceptance and it isn't like I ever think, seriously, this again?

    Also-I totally appreciate your thoughts on self-focus. I have about 3 posts going on this and can't finish one of them, but I am awestruck at my ability to keep focus on myself even when parenting another individual. Actually my next post sort of deals with that. I love a good segue! Thanks for the set up universe and Anj-who at times seem to be one and the same for me.


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