CONFERENCE

WRITING CONFERENCE SATURDAY, MAY 6
REGISTRATION FORM

WWW.NCWRITERS.BLOGSPOT.COM



Showing posts with label Lois Bertram. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lois Bertram. Show all posts

Friday, July 4, 2008

Tad, Jessica, Kathryn, Rebecca, Lynne, Lois, Paul and Pat at JCCFS


Lois Bertram to the right in photo.

Left: back row: Tad, Jessica, Kathryn, Rebecca, Lynne,
Front: Glenda, Lois, Paul and Pat
In March of 2008, eight students ranging in age from 25 to 66 plus, met each other for the first time in the new writing lab at JCCFS. I had expected older people to come to my class on writing your life stories, but to my surprise three of the students were young women 25 to 35 years old. I called them the young ones. Lois Bertram refers to them as The Girls in her essay below. To my surprise this class quickly bonded, and the older women and "The Girls" melded into a tight group with deep respect for each other. Paul and Tad, both men retired from successful careers, seemed to feel the same affection for the young women. Tad plans to write about "The Guys". All have kept in touch and shared writing by email for the past four months. Lois sent her essay for critique and I asked if I might share it with readers of this blog.



The Girls
Sixty-six years just flew by. How did I get to be so old – so fast? That reflection and question brought me to the realization that “this” was it: there would be no more “as soon as”. It was both a depressing thought and a liberating one. If “this” was it, what did I have to lose now? What had I not done because of so many foolish rules about failing or looking foolish or doing something non-productive – God forbid? What had I missed by following those rules? My creative soul had not been fed, I reasoned, that’s what I needed – to feed my creative soul.



I dabbled in various endeavors drawing, painting, photography but they were just appetizers. I wanted more. Then in North Carolina I found my entrée…writing. Your Life - Your Stories to be precise. Perhaps it was the timing - I needed to be sixty-six to understand my life in perspective and if I didn’t do it now - there was no “as soon as” any longer. For whatever reason or for all of them, here I was in a class of 8, a knowledgeable teacher and a beautiful environment.



As we met one another that first morning, I’m sure we all made assumptions and wondered if we would work well together. Our guard was up. Of the 8, two were men and I thought it great - to get a man’s perspective – life having already taught me that a man’s point of view would be different. But I questioned the three girls. If I thought anything in particular about their presence it was that they were so young to be writing about their lives. After all, you had to live it to write it…right?



Settling into our writing lab, our instructor Glenda, gave us our first assignment to write about some memento that we had brought with us. With little talk and heads down we began. Writing about the snapshot that I had brought was cathartic as I set down my deepest emotions on paper. It opened old wounds. It felt good, I thought, in re-reading what I had written but that was quickly changed as Glenda asked us to read them aloud to all the class. I had not anticipated this and I struggled to say aloud to strangers my painful private thoughts. The character of my classmates became instantly known as they created a safe haven for me with their patience and gentle attitude.
The girls impressed me as they each read their stories. All well educated, they wrote well, but it was the subjects and how they handled them – Kat’s sense of humor, Rebecca’s family memories and Jessica’s story of her father, which hinted at more. Perhaps these girls had lived more life than I would have thought or at least they recognized their lives in a way I hadn’t at that age. I seemed to have surged through my life. They appeared to have noticed theirs.
Days passed, and as we were given more prompts, read aloud, critiqued each other I found myself explaining to them my words and the past. It became obvious to me that one of life’s mysteries was being solved as I listened: How was the world going to survive with today’s young people in charge? Youth seemed to be so into themselves, didn’t take their jobs seriously, breaking rules, couldn’t count change! If they took over, the world would implode! For whatever reason, perhaps the setting and being so tuned in to really listening to the words and what was behind them, I began to see that it was no longer my world but theirs…it had already happened. I was free to enjoy what was left of my life; it was now their watch.
We had listed in class, world changing events in our lives, and they were missing wars, depression/recessions, Civil Rights, Watergate, Wounded Knee – even the atomic bomb! I worried, would they be able to lead without those lessons? The answer was yes, but in their own way and hopefully better. They seem to roll with life easier than we did. Rules are challenged, and their priorities seem different. And honestly, looking back at our world events list, it occurs to me that we didn’t do so well after all.
Free-spirited Rebecca who sees the world so unencumbered with “old people’s rules” anticipates the possibility, not the fear for what is to come, is in charge. Jessica, who was assigned to a prison for her first position, overcame her fear, discovered her strength and now leads others to a better life. And Kat, the young pastor who recognizes that old rules aren’t necessarily good rules, that goodness is better than righteousness, leads youth to a true understanding of “love one another”.
Today, I’m writing with the knowledge that I don’t have to please anyone and living an enlightened life with the knowledge that “the girls” and all like them are in charge. I wish them well.

Lois Bertram
29 June 2008