So I did a thing last night for the first time. I attended an hour long writing group called The Narrative Method.
Worst case scenario, I thought, "I hop off the call if it's super weird." Best case scenario, I thought, "I learn something new." And that I did!
We gathered with clear boundaries set in place by the founder, Shari Foos. She showed us a picture and gave us a prompt to write on for 7 minutes. Next, she gave us another prompt to tie into the first for 7 minutes. Finally, we had 7 minutes to edit before sharing in small groups. Lastly, we came back together as a large group, and had the option to share one sentence out loud.
One hour. In and out. I am a convert.
This was an entirely new way to write for me, as I just typically use my children as material. Also, this feels vulnerable, but I am about to share what I wrote. Because doing scary shit helps us grow. Here goes.
Photo: Older man and younger man
First Prompt: How do they make the best of it? (7 minutes)
Should they act like it’s the first time they are meeting and be on their best behavior? That would probably be the equation that would ensure the most successful outcome. As there are far too many decades of hurt, frustration, and misunderstanding between the two of them.
The father, himself, never had a mentor. His own paternal figure was absent. Not wanting to injure the baby, turned toddler, turned adolescent, turned man, he kept quiet and to himself. Never wanting to inflict any pain on his son, he paid no attention to the boy at all, in hopes of keeping him safe. This, of course, had the opposite effect on the baby, turned toddler, turned child, turned man. The son flitted around hoping to catch his father’s attention. First with “Look at me!” Followed by “Can’t you see me?” Finally, landing with an indifferent, “Well, I guess you really don’t want to see me.” It was a classic case of Cat’s in the Cradle.
So probably the best case scenario while both were still breathing would be to lay down all the expectations and just be with one another. See one another through new eyes, and perhaps do what they each came to do but had forgotten: love one another.
Second Prompt: Who will cry first? (7 minutes)
The father, fatigued after carrying all the pain for so long, let out an audible sigh. He looks directly at his child, and really sees his son for the first time in his life. Staring back are his own eyes. In his son’s face, he sees his own. He is suddenly transformed. He realizes it’s not too late for a new beginning, a fresh start. These eyes are a reflection of all the hope and potential he had at this same age. Beholding his son in this new way reminds him of this vast portal of accessible and unending unconditional love. His shoulders melt down his back, his jowls soften, he takes his glasses off and pulls his son towards him with both hands wrapped around his cheeks like an Italian Nona. The father says, “I am so glad you waited for me. Thank you for being patient. I see you now.”
The son, never experiencing this type of display of affection, isn't quite sure what to do. If he takes off the armor that has kept him safe for the last 42 years, he is left open and vulnerable. More hurt and pain. He wasn’t prepared for this outpouring of emotion. Without thinking, and led by instinct, he falls into his father for the first time in four decades and sobs. Finally, he is home.
* The Narrative Method is FREE and offered 3 times a week. I highly encourage checking it out!
With all the love and words,
** Also, please consider joining us for our first ever Writing Our Way to Freedom Retreat, May 19-21 at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville. Details coming soon!