Sunday, June 03, 2007


The first time I heard that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear, I was stunned. That was over 20 years ago, and since then I've come to embrace that fanatically, one might say. Wherever there is "hate", I try to determine what is the fear behind that. Finding the fear isn't the challenge, it's determining where the fear lies on the hierarchy of needs.

If you believe what Maslow taught us, that one cannot move "up" until foundational needs are met, it's quite helpful in becoming more compassionate and patient with others.

When Jennifer and I conduct our writing workshops, we must first create a safe "container". We believe that until the basic needs at the foundation of the pyramid are in place, transcendence is impossible. People, mostly women, come to us to write their story, to get it "out" of their bodies and minds, and to heal from whatever trauma(s) have taken place in their lives. Ultimately, what we want more than anything, is to facilitate the transcendence of trauma, or to get people on their way towards that transcendence. We believe writing memoir to be tremendously efficient in doing so.

We also believe there is a great responsibility to pad that transcendence process with soft places to land, deep inner resources from which to pull when the road to transcendence gets bumpy. And we try to do that in 2 1/2 days. Obviously we cannot be the first stop, nor the last on this path. We are just a "rest stop" along that highway. A place to pull off from the road and re-group. Clean out all the "litter", freshen up, have a snack, and move forward. Ever forward.

From Falling Awake I've learned how to ask for what I want. From Jennifer I've learned how we can't get what we want until our basic needs are first met. Needs, then wants. Needs, then wants. Needs, then wants.

I taught elementary education for 12 years. Over those years I saw the distinct trend. In schools where the population of students had a low level of basic needs met, more time in the school was spent on meeting those needs, than in formal "education." In many schools in our prosperous country, food, clothing and shelter are provided. Food, clothing and shelter. Nothing more basic than that. Yet without that first level on the pyramid "handled", how can we even pretend those students are coming ready to learn?

And so as I settle back into life as a mother and wife, 3,000 miles away from my last gig as a teacher, I wrestle with this conundrum. How do we offer both a place to meet needs and wants? How do we make people safe, let their story pour out, teach them a few nifty writing techniques, and prepare them for the backlash after publication? How do we serve without being self-serving? How do we teach anything but what we most need to learn ourselves?


Anonymous said...

Carrie, I think you and Jennifer should attend the reading on Tuesday evening in PDX of Falling Awake. It's in NE. on Killingsworth

kario said...

I'm going to be chewing on this one for a while, my dear. Thanks!

Nancy said...

I think perhaps it is less about what you come to teach and more about what we come to learn. Each of us on a different part of the journey.

"We are just a "rest stop" along that highway. A place to pull off from the road and re-group. Clean out all the "litter", freshen up, have a snack, and move forward. Ever forward."

Kim said...

I think everyone, students and teachers, is going to come away from these workshops with something so different and individual.

They are wonderful rest stops--and not just for rest, but for FUEL. Vital, premium, super-power fuel for the road ahead.

Jerri said...

Fascinating, Carrie.

Forward, ever forward. With love.

Deb said...

Wonderfully delicious questions. I love that you're asking them. I also believe they're more important than the answers. We're a circle, brought together by the larger Mystery, and so cannot do it wrong.

I am so looking forward to being with you and Jennifer - in just days now!

Love and gratitude to you.