Encouraging Thunder–In Which I Offer Shelter from the Storm

Dear Lily June,

There are moments in my life that I’ve been under extreme emotional pressure. Crippled by anxiety and depression, I’ve longed for someone to, as Bob Dylan once sang, offer me “shelter from the storm.” In blogging your letters to the world of WordPress (I hope you don’t mind my sharing them), I’ve found an entire community of people who offer me that kind of shelter through solace, sympathy, empathy and encouragement.

I couldn’t be more grateful to the ones I’ve interacted with along the way, and I offer them, and you, up one of my favorite covers of the song I allude to as the only kind of gift I can afford to repay everyone with. Truly, to anyone reading (and none more than you yourself, Lily, if so you ever read these one day), please know I’m here. I’m listening. Mi shelter es su shelter.

In the meantime, I offer up special gratitude to Cathy Lynn Brooks, who was kind enough not only to teach me about storms I can never imagine suffering with her blog, but also to nominate me for the Encouraging Thunder award.

encouraging-thunder-awardThe rules of the award are very simple, and I promise, though I’ll mosey my way to getting there, I’ll follow them.

As the nominee, you should:
• post the Award on your blog and add the logo.
• Pass it on by nominating others (five is the suggested number).
•Thank the person that nominated you; also add their URL to your post for ping back.
•Mention your purpose for blogging.

But first, my meandering: Thunder is a tricky business, as for many years of human history, no one knew what caused it. While now the scientific consensus is that thunder is triggered by lightning’s changing pressure (not unlike the reason some of us blog in the first place), I prefer the older theories that have been ruled out. Norse mythology, for instance, held that it was Thor’s hammer crashing down that made the booming sound.

Eat your hearts out, Bill Nye, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. How you like these “scientific” apples?

But I think it’s the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s theory that appeals to me most: That thunder is the sound caused by a collision between clouds. So much of blogging, love, and life is about collision–when ideas collide with our words, joy collides with pain, and despair collides with hope. So I offer up five names of those in whose blogs I see interesting collisions and connections occurring:

  1. johnclamans–This thoughtful armchair philosopher takes on everything from whether Batman should kill Joker to how we can work towards a healthier planet. In the collision of modernity and sustainability, I see hope for humanity, as well as nature.
  2. creativetitle–This blogger does more than just seize the day. She also seizes the chicken. And the scarves. And the handcuffs. The collision between humor and poignancy makes her life stories some of the most interesting I’ve ever read. (But Lily, if you ever climb onto a stranger’s motorcycle, so help me…)
  3. coffeenwinemom–There’s the obvious collision here between coffee and wine. But in a deeper way, these collaborative mommy bloggers teach me, as I read about their children going off to kindergarten or having birthdays, the ultimate balancing act of motherhood: having the love to hold on and the strength to let go.
  4. MeRaw–This is one of the most heartbreaking blogs I’ve ever encountered. Here, love collides with death. But this mother of a son who passed from testicular cancer, in her absolutely beautiful tributes and memories, shares her son with the world. We are lucky to know him, and through her eyes, too.
  5. corriewright2013–This blogger orchestrates the collision between pain and healing, despair and encouragement, silence and activism. Though I don’t, like her, suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, I find it extremely honorable and uplifting that she’s devoted her blog solely to lifting up others who may be struggling with their diagnosis, or even just their day, with RA.

And now, onto my “purpose for blogging”:

As it says in my “Hello Lily” header post, part of the reason I write to you, Lily, is to help you understand me. I’ve had shaky connections with my own parents over the years, and part of that is because they’ve often withheld their thoughts and feelings from me, or they’ve withheld the motivations behind their actions. I want, with you Lily, to be an open book. I want you to know the ways in which I’m not healthy (OCPD, IC, anxiety, depression, etc.), but I also want you to know the ways in which I couldn’t be more well (in loving you and your father and writing and reading).

I won’t always make sense to you. As one of my favorite bands, Cake, sings:

“You think she’s an open book, but / you don’t know which page to turn to, do you?”

At least, though, on a day where you’re doubting yourself, or your choices, or whether or not you were loved, I can point you to these letters and show you that not a day went by when I wasn’t thinking about you. Worrying about your future and how you’ll navigate this often troubling world. Dreaming about who you’d be as you grew up, and celebrating who you will eventually become. I can offer you, with my words if not also my arms, shelter from whatever storms life brings you.

Why, then, have I chosen to share these letters, not just with you, but with the world? Lily, you have to know that I often doubt myself. When I discovered I had a mental illness, I understood that there were flaws in my ways of thinking: that some of my perceptions of how things work were distorted at best, and dangerous at worst. They used to say that, to raise a child, it took a village, because every member of the human tribe played a part in the rearing. Humanity has spread out, populations have exploded, but what we have in common is the ability to collide.

I have put your letters out into the world so that, if there’s something I would say to you that I shouldn’t have, someone can comment on that. I want my assumptions corrected and my point of view expanded so that, when it comes time to talk to you and teach you things, I have a wider grasp on how things work in other marriages, other families, other homes, other states, other countries, other religions, other belief structures, etc. I want you to be raised by me, but to have my approaches stem from what I’ve learned from others. I am not perfect, Lily. No one is. But I’m willing to use this blog to tell you some things I believe, and to ask questions of what I don’t understand (even when what I don’t understand is you or me).

And anyone who reads or comments on your letters helps me ask those questions (and sometimes find some answers). And sometimes the questions are just impossible to answer, but that won’t stop me from asking them. As Ray Bradbury writes in Something Wicked This Way Comes,

“what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?”

***

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8 thoughts on “Encouraging Thunder–In Which I Offer Shelter from the Storm

  1. corriewright2013 says:

    You are an extraordinary lady. You touch many hearts with your letters to Lily. She will be more than proud to read and treasure these. I’m so proud that someone nominated you for an award because you deserve it as well. I personally think that you should write a book. Keep on writing to Lily because it heals you from within. You’re the most beautiful MOTHER in spirit and soul that any child could ever wish for and that goes without even being perfect as you say. Thanks for touching our lives with letters to Lily.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lucinda Tart says:

    Reblogged this on livingyournewlifewithchronicpain and commented:
    On this Labor Day weekend, 2015, what could be more uplifting to those of suffering from pain than Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm”? So many are vacationing, doing their annual cleaning of their home and enjoying the company of loved ones. So many are not. I have blogged quite a bit about living Well as a Survivor of Fibromyalgia, but, I too have lived a life that has reared up with ugly and confusing mental health issues. I currently am addressing anxiety, depression, and general PTSD. Thanks in part to life and lessons not learned from my hands-off upbringing and the rear-end in 2013. While I understand these issues firsthand, and academically, creating and implementing a Well Life plan for each of these is quite complicated some days. I am entirely grateful that my Angel Baby was raised during a time of my being Well. To sum this up, let us all remember those who hurt too much to summon up the energy to get out and party. Let us be honest with each other, educate those who are not living in our shoes and take a moment to shelter ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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