I was really nervous about my first Writer's Workshop in Düsseldorf.
I have been part of many workshops in school and even co-founded a Playwrighting Workshop (POW! Playwrights' Open Workshop), and so I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I decided to try to start a writing group here in Germany in hopes of meeting other English-speaking creative types, since I've come to a bit of a making-new-friends standstill. As a recent college graduate I'm bound to go through withdrawals of certain kinds, which is natural, and knowing this they don't really get me down. But one thing I refuse to let go of in my life is being part of a community of love, creativity, energy, and flow, and so I decided that I would try to make one out of thin air and, hopefully, inspire others to discover something new about themselves at the same time.
The group was small, and only one other person besides myself brought writing to share. Most people showed up just to meet new people with no interest in the writing aspect at all, which was totally fine with me. Meeting new people was really the objective in making the group, anyway, and I was just happy to have been able to provide that for some people. But I was happy too soon, because it got so much better. A lovely young woman, Rosa, new to us all (I knew a couple people from previous Au pair gatherings) brought a beautiful piece about the power of humor that some people have to influence reality, and the true beauty of not taking life too seriously. It was really moving, especially since it was written in English, which is not her native language, and she had obviously worked very hard on it. And after reading my blog, discussion started to slowly come out within the group, like a shy animal starting to feel comfortable in a new home. In a group of five people, three of whom had started out by telling me they weren't into the whole writing thing, we were dissecting our writing, bouncing around ideas of meaning, and coming up with new thoughts.
I was shocked. My goal going into the meeting was to inspire at least one person to start writing, or at least experiment with the idea of it. By the end of the meeting almost everyone was talking about what they might start working on for the next meeting. It was a really inspirational and exciting moment for me, realizing I had the ability not only to bring people together to try something strange, but also to inspire those people to try something new and think about things they may not have had thought about before. I am so grateful to the open hearts and open minds of the people that came -- it easily could have turned out that we just had a few laughs over a few beers on a Saturday afternoon, but it was so much more than that. It proved to me that everyone you meet has something amazing to say and they really want to say it, but we are so rarely encouraged to express ourselves so openly.
And what's truly amazing was the content of our discussion, because not only was it interesting and thought-provoking in itself, but now that I reflect back on it we were already talking about the result of what we were doing at the time. Interestingly, but not too surprisingly, Rosa and I had some things in common in our writing. The discussion that followed our readings centered around the idea of one's potential, about the bullshit we create to hold ourselves back, and how we begin to get through all of it to live our lives to the fullest. And the main idea we kept coming back to was the idea of "the comfort zone", the safe place one creates for herself and gets so comfortable in that she loses the urge to go beyond her own self-proclaimed borders. As I mentioned in the last blog, it's so very easy to limit ourselves to our expectations and not have to go beyond and just let fear make all the rules so we don't have to think about anything. I think its really amazing that in our workshop discussion we were talking about something that we were at that same time working to destroy. Whether consciously or not, everyone there had come to this meeting to do something new to push the limits of their zone, to experience something unknown and broaden their perspectives. And I believe we all left fuller, brighter, lighter, and better.
This is something I want to continue to explore and hopefully share some ideas about. I truly think that pushing ourselves to take the first step into the daunting darkness of the Unknown is the first step of many steps to figuring out a lot of things: who you are, where you're from, who you truly love, and what you truly want. I think our souls are like the Earth, and our minds are the people who inhabit the Earth. Not so long ago people thought the Earth was flat, and that if we sailed beyond the known territory then we would fall into the abyss of the gaping Darkness. I have a feeling if we begin to take the same initiative as the fearless explorers of history and sail a little farther beyond what we already know, we'll someday end up at the beginning and realize that our souls are much bigger, much more mysterious, and far less scary than we originally believed.
I want to thank Rosa, Rob, Imogen, and Annika for coming to the first workshop meeting and inspiring me in so many ways. I know this is something I want to continue to do in different capacities, and you've already given me so much energy to pursue new ways of doing it. You're all beautiful, interesting, and thoughtful people, and I'm excited to continue educating myself on your minds and spirits, perhaps through some writing?