Unseen Shoals

Fog over the South Fork Rivanna River Reservoir.

“We record unspoken experience in the mind and body, but unless we can story it out, experience remains inside us shrouded like fog hanging over water.  We may act on these unspoken tensions, but we act blindly.  We whistle bravely forward, a small, lost skiff, sounding a horn in the mist.  And often we crash upon unseen shoals.  Unarticulated experiences that are not allowed into the story can show up years later as trauma, disease, mental illness or a midlife crisis.  But when these same experiences  are shifted into language and successfully worked through in the healing power of story, they lay the groundwork for transformative personal development.”

Christina Baldwin,  Storycatcher, Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story

I’ve found myself crashing into “unseen shoals” these past weeks as I begin to bring my hidden stories to light … the ones cached in deep mud at the bottom of the river.  The ones I really don’t want to live through again, but know I must in order to make sense of who I am and where I’ve come from.  I know the ending of my story will be a happy one. It’s how I retell the stories of what happened in the beginning and in the middle that will make it so. It is a painful and difficult journey.  For the time being those stories need a bit of protection before I share them.  I will keep writing here, sharing resources and timely stories that will balance out all the rest.

Christina Baldwin’s book from which I took the quote above, is powerful. I plan on rereading it as I move through the next months and bring to light more difficult times.  It’s a must read for anyone wishing to write memoir.

This entry was posted in Books, Life, stories, Wise Words. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Unseen Shoals

  1. patricia says:

    thanks for you bravery and the Christina Baldwin book, and her apparent story too. Much love and thanksgiving to you.

  2. jzrart says:

    Thank you Patricia and love and thanksgiving to you as well! I’m grateful that you are out there!!

  3. Sharon says:

    I am so grateful for the quote. The book is one of my favorites as well but I love having the excerpt here in a condensed space. It is perfect. I love how you will honor this space while you ferret out the other stories – the ones that are the most healing. And, perhaps those stories will never end up here in this space and that is okay. They will be where they need to be and do what they need to do. This post is wonderful because it helps to pause sometimes and consider what we are doing, why we are doing it and for whom and this post reminds us of that.

  4. jzrart says:

    Sharon,
    Thanks so much for your support and kindness. It has been wonderful to have you by my side as I walk those dimly lit roads.

    xo Joan

  5. Ruth McCully says:

    Joan — I love Christina Baldwin’s book. Someday, I would love to do a retreat with her. I so appreciate what you are saying and admire your courage and love your stories as you write about your life. I am taking a lifestory/legacy writing class and there are definitely stories that I will not be able to share with my family. But it feels “right” to tell them to me and to the class of strangers. I also wanted to let you know how much I am also enjoying your photos — this weeks photo is wonderful. So dearie, share what you feel you can, stories can be retold and deepened and thickened as time passes.

  6. jzrart says:

    Ruth,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. I’d love to do a workshop With Christina too!

  7. Susan says:

    Lovely post. Just what I need to hear as I feel myself moving closer toward putting pen to paper (or more precisely, fingers to keyboard) again. Much love, Susan

  8. jzrart says:

    Susan,
    I’m glad you are edging closer to doing some writing. You are a great writer and I so miss your old blog. Your posts were always meaty and left me wanting more. I also miss you, my friend and wish there wasn’t such wide spaces between where we live. Any chance of getting to the east coast to see relatives?? I may not be one of those but would love to see you.

    Happy Thanksgiving with loads of love, Joan

  9. patti stark says:

    always thinking of you during your journey – you are a brave lady!

  10. jzrart says:

    Thanks for being there for me, Patti!

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