, , ,

In all the years during this life, my voice within has never fallen silent. Until now. It was an imperceptible change. The moment of realization came as a surprise, but I did not panic. Only an inner calmness.

No inner voice telling me I was not good enough. No inner voice telling me I had deserved every punishment suffered for one failure or the other. No inner voice telling me what I should or should not do. No inner voice criticizing my decisions and actions. No fictional or real-life character demanding to be heard.

How did this happen? Is it the result of two years of social isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic? Is it due to the severe pain I had suffered to the right and creative side of my brain and head, following infection by the Omicron coronavirus? Is this the beginning of forgetfulness that often comes with aging? Could this be a transformation of living mindfully?  

After my mother’s death in August 2022, I began the process of letting go of all the negative emotions I have been carrying since my childhood. Through the daily practice of mindfulness, as taught by the Buddhist Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022), I am learning to get in touch with the pain, fear, anxiety, and suffering locked away in the depths of my consciousness. When a vague fear rouses me from sleep at night, I work at facing it head on, using the energy of mindful breathing, and, if possible, identifying its origin. With diligence and vigilance, I counter the temptation of avoidance and cover-ups.

Within the deep silence that now envelops me, I sense no urgency to complete my current writing project on women as first envisioned. Our country has changed. Our world has changed. So much is at stake for the survival of life as we know it on our planet. I observe and absorb these changes from within the silence. I must trust the process of being present for life with its sadness and joy, fear and tolerance, hate and understanding. I am listening.

While my writing project remains at a standstill, I will continue to share some of the completed stories of women who have shaped my life. “Remembering Winifred Gaskin: A ‘Political Woman’ in a Man’s World,” featured on March 12, 2023, was the first of these stories.