Guided Writing Sessions

Guided Writing Session Directory

Below, you will find recordings for each Guided Writing Session dating back to August 2021 when the sessions were began.

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The Loss of Innocence

response to a deepening prompt from Mark:
My loyalty to “team child” will never be forsaken.  It is in me to my core, a kind of certainty.  This sureness is rare for me.  I’ve often used not knowing as protection.  I’m discovering other ways of feeling safe, beyond the innocence of not knowing.  

I propose a “both/and” to myself.  A slight adjustment of solution.  I have to admit I’m an adult.  A rather old one.  I’ve masqueraded as an adult for years, to bring the dollars in.  But I’ve kept adult identity at a distance.  

Being a successful one, in this patriarchal world, seemed to require forsaking one’s humanity.  Relating to others as numbers instead of as living entities.  Seeing self as ego, as me alone, made of wants.  A self bound to put itself ahead of others.  

Instead, I want a self that is aware of its connections to everyone.  To the earth and stars, the stones and seas, and all the different kinds of people.  One rooted in compassion.

It’s not that I can’t recall compassionate adults.  I have known them, but they never seemed to stay.  Like Uncle Ben.  He had skin the color of cherry wood.  It had a golden-red patina.  His hair was thick and jet black. 

There was a lilting to his voice, which could be difficult to hear.  He kept it soft, so as not to attract the attention of the jittery men, who saw him as a thing instead of person.  

They seemed to fear his beauty, and the gentleness of his presence.  They called him “Chief” in a mocking way.  He’d been to college, unlike most folks in Muskogee. 

The only work he could get was pumping gas and wiping windshields.  He did it with a sort of grace, anchored in his sense of something deeper than the surface of things.  Aunt Franny said that’s what gave him  Leukemia.   All those men’s meanness. 

He died when I was seven.  Once again, I was excluded from goodbyes, due to bureaucratic rules on hospital visits.  Children were a no-no.  How I wanted to see him!

Instead, he became my next experience of death as a phenomenon of disappearance.  Now you see them, now you don’t. A cruel piece of magic.   I can counter this now, with the sad/sweet passing of my friend Diane now in my memory.  But the loss of him felt like an endless void.  

We had special-time, together.  We’d mostly watch things, silently.  Critters, like the black ants, reveling in our bread crumbs.  Other people, at our church services.  Dust motes, dancing in golden beams through the windows.  We would watch, then he’d catch my eye and smile.  

It was at church that I first met him.  He caught Aunt Franny when she fainted during services.  They started spending time together.  Then the fire happened and everything in my life changed, except for visits, from my Aunt Mott and from him.  

Uncle Ben was my visitor throughout my time in foster-care, when I was five.  Every week, we had our milkshake day.  Even when I was refusing to eat, I couldn’t resist a milkshake. Preferably chocolate.   

It was ok to tell him I missed Mama.  He didn’t rush to change the subject like most grown-ups did. He could be present in sadness- I can see that now.  I was so lucky.  

And what a wonderful gift he was, to my fractious family.  Who else, but a man raised in matriarchy, could tolerate our house of women?  His older sister was the head of his family.

During our visits, Ben sat patiently while I made my version of letters - pages of squiggly lines I said aloud as I made them.  Stories to my mother, about my new life, with a father, and a television.  Like our old neighbors had.   He humored my  pretend writing, with his gentle smile.    

He brought me drawings and messages from Mama, in exchange for my letters.  He told me special stories, he knew from Cherokee-childhood.  One favorite was “Forever Boy”. 

Forever Boy didn’t want to grow up.  He’d rather play.  His father said the boy had to go away and learn to be a grown-up.  He didn’t want to.  He went to the river.  He cried and cried.  

His animal friends came, They knew how to help him.  They said “turn around”.   When he did, he saw little people, just his size (and the same size as me). They said he could be one of them, and never have  to grow up. So he did. 

I’d forgotten Ben’s tale until this writing. Did I later hear it’s echo in Peter Pan?   Eventually, I married a version of a lost boy.  But that’s another tale.  

Remembering Ben, I can bear the thought of being grown-up.  There are honorable others.  It’s easy to forget this when exposed to some forms of media.  It’s easy to get caught in all the fear.  It’s everywhere. But so is beauty.  

I can imagine/ remember my life as child.  Before my spitting into good and bad.  And then a thousand other opposites.  Like child and grown-up.  I laughed at anyone who thought that anything I did could be seen as wrong.  I knew that I was good. Then one day I stopped this knowing. 

I think it happened in two stages.  One was taking in the concept of evil.  Aunt Mott talked a lot of that.  She said there were bad people, who did the devil’s bidding.  I thought of the men who dressed as pointy-headed ghosts, and ruined our church picnic with their burning cross.  We ran away.

Then there was that moment when we were standing outside our burning house and Franny looked at me, her face all puzzled, and asked “Where’s Larry?”

I said “Upstairs, in the bathroom.” The look of terror on her face. I remembered that as big kid, I was supposed to look after him.  My first consideration of sin.