Write Like You Mean It


Humility. It is from the Latin humilitas, which may be translated as “humble,” but also as “low,” “from the earth,” or “humid,” since it derives in turn from humus (earth).  Wikipedia says it is a virtue, since it is connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine, and of egolessness.

I sang yesterday for a woman who lay dying. I sang with three other women who all sing their heartsongs, and as I sang I looked out at the sparkling blue-gray bay beyond, hearing our voices lift to carry the breath of one whose breaths can be counted now, so slowly. As I sang I thought of humility. Lift me up, I sang in silent supplication while my lips sang other words. Lift me up. Let me be your instrument.

Words like those do not come to me often, or easily. I have come so far in owning my wants, my desires, and here I was asking to release them into the breath-space beyond me. Humility. Releasing my desires into the larger space around me. Releasing my hold, my death grip, on creating my What Comes Next. Slipping into the warm current that will carry me into the tides of tomorrow and tomorrow. I felt my body, my heart, relax as I still sang, still looked with love and wonder and gratitude at the wild white hair scrawled across the pillow above the slight bent form curled into a u-shape, and the soft careworn faces lifted in song around me.

I thought about what it might be like to release into nothingness, into the space around and beyond me, and to let go of trying and simply be. To let go of needing to be perfect, or even good. To instead offer myself as a gift gladly received wherever there is need. To breathe life into the spaces between my cells, and let them float up, up, into the wideness of All That Is. To release into softness, and to allow that softness to carry me, lift me, and form me into my What Comes Next.

I am writing my story, the bigger story that is me, and in so doing will discover who I am and how to be in the world. It feels already like humility, humus, the Earth, is a part of that. My bones are shaped from mud, after all. My heartbeat stirs far beneath my feet in the warm wet wild earth. I am writing and also mindful that each breath I take also stirs the air of seven billion throats. Each step I take reverberates around the globe under seven billion pairs of feet. Each song I sing adds to the music already resounding through seven billion ears. What I do affects you. I write my story knowing this, and it makes me feel not small, but humble. Aware. I have the power to change lives. It amazes me to think this. I need do nothing, nor perhaps should I do anything other than Love and Be.


  • Mathilda Wheeler

    I love this. The gift that you ARE — just by being (no “just” about it!) resonates throughout the universe without judgment. And I want to eat up your use of language: warm wet wild earth. Thank you for the way you describe singing at the threshold and your prayer: Lift me up. Let me be an instrument. To be the gift we are. Ahh. Obviously I shall have to subscribe!

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