Monday, March 21, 2011


~ Native American Proverb

Last Saturday I spoke at the Northwest Arkansas Writers conference on the creative nonfiction writing style. In one part of my PowerPoint presentation I flash a word on the screen and ask for a volunteer to share a memory that word sparked and to use at least one of the 5 senses in describing it. After the first volunteer shares, I ask the group if this person’s story brought to mind something from their past. Then I have a second volunteer share with us.  Time permitting, I continue this chain of memory sharing. I do this to demonstrate how we as writers can embellish our stories in our readers’ minds, which is important when we are constrained by a limited word count.

While listening to my volunteers last Saturday it occurred to me how their experiences connected them. Two strangers finding common ground. In a sense, their stories wove them together.

My daughter-in-love, Bea, is a fantastic knitter. She wore a sweater yesterday she had knitted and it blew my mind. I thought she’d purchased it at Neiman’s or some high-end specialty shop.  Her beautiful design, intricate and complicated, was a work of art. Each thread complimented and enhanced the other.

Why can’t we be like that?

How I wish we could focus on the beauty of our common interests woven together rather than on a snagged thread that will inevitably mar the pattern—if we let it. So what if a person doesn’t have the same political opinion as I do? So what if a person celebrates a different holiday from me? I don’t have to focus on the snags, but on how we are the same—love of family, the need to laugh, sharing our story, learning from each other.

True, there are some extremists who are a tangled mess, but the majority of us want the same thing, to provide a peaceful, nurturing place for our families, friends and those in need. Think about it, anytime tragedy happens here in the USA or in another part of the world, the first thought most of us have is “what can I do to help?”  It doesn’t matter what political party they belong to, the god they worship or what their government espouses. We just want to help our fellow man.

Life has a way of reminding us that we are knit together in the fabric of humanity, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately there will always be those who point out our differences in an effort to sensationalize their issue. But we can choose to focus on the common thread we have with others. I love this anonymous quote: “Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique”.

This week let us appreciate the burlap and gold threads in others.

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