I Am Here

For the longest time, I wasn’t here.

I have always loved to write. A long held dream of mine has been to write publicly and share personal essays, to uplift or inspire or maybe just offer a little levity. But for many reasons, I just haven’t been ready. A person can be so confident, decisive and even fearless in certain aspects of one’s life, but unsure for something so deeply personal. I am only human after all. And in my uncertainty, the dream has been postponed. One day I will start a blog (when I come up with the right niche, the perfect name, a compelling first story). I just need more information, more advice, inspiration, and of course, much more time.

But the other day, as I was being my contemplative introverted self, quietly reading my Twitter news feed, a random tweet commanded my attention and held me spellbound.

It was philosopher Alan Watts. He looked me right in the eye, and spoke to me directly across time and space.

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”

I was stilled by his message.

Words have the power to do this. They can transcend time, travel through space, and arrive at the most exquisitely perfect time, kicking you right in the pants.

This was the kick in the pants I needed, coming from a wise old friend I never knew, who wasn’t afraid to tell the truth. Stop trying to find the perfect title, and the perfect words, to be shared publicly at the perfect time. Stop waiting to learn more about WordPress or copyright, or sorting out what picture you want to feature on the front page.

I don’t really know what I’m doing yet, but I took Alan’s advice to heart. Stop aspiring and start writing. I registered the first good name that came to me, and wrote this post tonight, with the first imperfect words that came to me. The rest will undoubtedly work itself out.

So, I am here now. I am finally here. And it feels right and good.

Perhaps one day, my words will speak directly to another person across time and space. And something really good will happen afterwards. But in this moment, if I haven’t saved anyone else, I have at least saved myself. The writer in me will not have to perish from the regret of dreams unfulfilled.

Sharing in this space was easier than I thought. Thank you, Mr. Watts.

I am Here Mirror

10 thoughts on “I Am Here

  1. Steve Hedetniemi October 3, 2014 / 8:19 am

    Like you, blogs are new to me, and so this will be a new experience for both of us. Sharing thoughts in a very public way can be intimidating, for sure. It brings to mind those times in our life when we were required to give a speech, or make some kind of public presentation. You wonder if you can ever do this without feeling some level of nervousness. But my experience has almost always been that although initially you might be nervous, when you “get into it” your thoughts just “flow,” it becomes easy and indeed enjoyable!

    My first public presentation was to make a short speech in front of the entire student body at my high school, when I was one of three candidates running for school president. Talk about being nervous! I finished last in the voting!

    On another occasion I was the first speaker at an international mathematics conference at Western Michigan University, in front of some 400 people. Oh boy! Sitting in the audience were many world-class mathematicians!

    I once had to speak in front of the Board of Higher Education of the State of Oregon, trying to convince them to vote in favor of establishing a PhD program in Computer Science at the University of Oregon. This time there were only about a dozen people to whom I was speaking, but it was so very important! After my presentation and some ensuing discussion, they voted me down! Is there a pattern of failure here? This was the bad news. The good news was that the President of the University of Oregon then came to my rescue, spoke to a few people behind the scenes, had me take a then absent Board member to lunch, and the next time the Board met, they voted unanimously in favor of establishing our PhD program!

    But a blog is something altogether different. You are really going public, try the world! I have experienced the great pleasure of doing joint research, all by email, with people all over the world, many of whom I have never met, including people living in Taiwan, India, South Africa, Norway, France, Algeria and Egypt. But this type of communication is pretty much one-on-one. Now we are fully “exposed,” the world sees what we say and feels how we feel.

    Let us all enjoy and benefit from this experience.

    • Karin Hedetniemi November 30, 2014 / 11:15 am

      This is a wonderful first comment for my blog, as your personal stories truly illustrate a common human experience and emotion. The quiet courage required to put one’s self ‘out there’ and the hope that it will be embraced. Your last line says it all. Let us all enjoy and benefit from this experience. Thank you Dad.

  2. Jason Sacks October 3, 2014 / 7:27 pm

    I’m so happy you’re making this leap, Karin! You have a rich soul with many interesting ideas to share and I’m looking forward to reading this blog frequently. Welcome to the fraternity of writers.

    • Karin Hedetniemi November 30, 2014 / 11:20 am

      Thank you Jason! There is something very freeing about being a newbie. You can just stumble along, knowing others are smiling, and quietly encouraging you. I will get braver over time. PS – Is there a secret handshake for this fraternity? 😉

    • Karin Hedetniemi February 2, 2015 / 4:45 pm

      Hi @lilypup! I remember your awesome stormy cover photo! Yes, I am here to find and offer some of that blogging love!

  3. momndaughtersavings February 2, 2015 / 5:06 pm

    I love what he said! I needed to hear that when I was trying to get started. Although that was over 4 years ago. I wish I would have been able to take this class back then! But I still need it! Great post!

    • Karin Hedetniemi February 2, 2015 / 7:44 pm

      Everything in its own right time. (For example, if you took this course 4 years ago, our paths would not have crossed today!)

  4. Gradmama2011 February 2, 2015 / 6:40 pm

    This is a wonderful course, friendly and helpful people.
    I liked your post…welcome. I’m back again myself.

    • Karin Hedetniemi February 2, 2015 / 7:44 pm

      Friendly helpful people should stick together. I’m glad you’re back, too.

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