by Reese Leyva ǀ @reese.leyva
This new column, Adventures Into Wholeness, was inspired by a poem by William Stafford in which he writes:
Ask me whether what I have done is my life.
I’ve pondered this question for years, asking myself over and over, “is this my life? Is this my life? What about this? And that? This thing I’m doing now – is this MY life?”
Here’s why I’m asking…
I grew up in a household where children were raised to be seen and not heard. And not being seen at all, walking through the world as invisibly as possible, was even better.
Laughing too loud was offensive. Crying was done in privte because it made others uncomfortable.
Speaking one’s mind, speaking up for yourself, or having an opinion different from your elders was the fast-track to a scolding, a pinching, or a spanking.
Parts I Left Behind
Now, as an adult asking myself what MY life really is and whether or not I am actually doing it/living it, I can’t help but recall the many parts of me left behind in my childhood.
The part of me that believed what I had to say was meaningful or important.
She was told she was wrong, out of line, and too young to know anything. She learned to keep her words to herself. They didn’t matter enough to say aloud.
The part of me who loved watching Bob Ross paint happy trees on TV and thought what he did was the truest form of magic she’d ever seen.
She had to change the channel when she heard her mom coming because she was supposed to be a doctor or a lawyer, not a useless, impoverished artist.
The part of me who loved to play, have fun, daydream and wander. The part of me who did things just because the doing of it was fun.
She learned how selfish that was, being unproductive when there were floors to be vacuumed, toilets to be cleaned, dishes to be washed, and laundry to be folded.
So What IS My Life? What is MINE?
That one line from William Stafford’s poem has led me to other questions, like:
– Am I doing this because I feel like I HAVE to, or because I WANT to? Am I doing this out of joy or obligation?
– Is this my choice, or was it my mother’s choice and I just didn’t have the courage (or clarity) to say no?
– Is this the career I wanted, or did I fall into it and never leave because I was too scared?
– Am I being the kind of mother I want to be? Wife? Friend? Or am I just being the way my grandparents taught me to be? Am I choosing, or mimicking?
And perhaps, most relevant to this post:
– When I’m writing, is this really how I feel? What I mean? Is this really what I want to say / how I want to say it? Or am I just writing what I think others will like? Or writing to sound more like someone else?
“Ask me what I have done with my life” has led me to a lot of powerful questions, and a lot of wondering about what it would be like to live and write from a place of wholeness.
Wholeness, to me, is about bringing all of me to my work and life. Every. Single. Part of me.
Even the parts of me I left behind. Even the parts of me I don’t like, the parts I judge harshly, condemn, or hide from others. Especially those parts.
With a respectful tenderness, I invite them into my writing and my daily life and try my best to stand in the vulnerability that arises.
This column is about that process. It’s about inviting wholeness into my writing and my life, and the adventures that ensue. I hope you stick around to read my adventures, and please share with me your own!
Message me on Instagram (@reese.leyva) and let me know how you invite wholeness into your poetry and your life.
Can’t wait to hear from you!
In this bi-weekly column, Reese, will both show you and take you on an adventure into wholeness through the written word.
Reese Leyva ǀ @reese.leyva
Reese is a poet and writer based in the PNW, U.S.A. Her shorter works can be found on Instagram (direct messages welcome!) and longer poems are available on her website www.reeseleyva.com.