I am having one of those days, the kind when the sun doesn’t shine, where the grey weakens your core, and each effort to illuminate the day dims further and deeper into a holding pattern of my own creation. Perhaps it is the thirty inches of snow outside that fell in a heap on Tuesday, blockading me from leaving my home headquarters. Maybe it is the wintry cold outside that weakens my bones, creaking as I move throughout the morning. Certainly the sepia tone that spreads over the view from my home office window, with the exception of a prominent, bright red cardinal upon the twigs of an Oak tree catches my attention of the dreariness that lies just feet from my own.
Regardless, the doomful feeling drones over me, dampening my spirits, and challenges my ability to shake it from my marrow. The morning light did correspond with an early blog entry, like a meditation of the fingers and heart connected to a greater power I can never fully explain to readers. Yet as the words lay across the screen from freshly typed keyboarding, I transfer my attention to children, school lunches, and a movement towards exiting household members to their prospective locations. As the final door shuts, a host of errands listed on a notepad lies dormant like an open door awaiting closure.
I return to my computer, hoping writing might continue from the joy prior, but nothing inspires my fingertips to dance as they’d done earlier. My thoughts turn toward my life, how empty my professional world feels, a second edit of my first memoir waiting for attention and direction, the essays I never published for fear of failure to entertain, and the unread blog that sits before me. I click on the statistics page, examining the lack of visits upon a bar graph, reacting with uncertainty of whether I want an unedited blog read or not. Unable to reach any readership, including friends, spouse, or acquaintances, I wonder if writing is the ‘right’ avenue to pursue. If only I could see the writing on the wall, a sign, or my path revealed.
Hours pass and I contemplate, explore, and navigate building a reader’s platform, forming a stage for future readers. I update my Twitter account, review my Facebook page, and imagine joining Toastmasters to improve my presentation skills. Yet soon restlessness, hopelessness, and overwhelm engage my insides, hours pass without any measurable accomplishment of basic, daily responsibilities, and I relent to sit in the quiet of the day, a darkness setting in like cloud cover. My emotions are relentlessly lowering into dim shadows, refusing to release from a blackened space. I feel alone in this darkened cavity, unable to see my way out.
Tears form recognizing the wastefulness of time, saddened by the nothingness that surrounds me. Alone and sad for my inaction, my resolve weakened into a depressed state of being, I contemplate reaching for help, or in the least, confessing my perceived sin of wasting a day. The number dialed, the receiver held, and a soft voice answers with compassion, love, and encouragement. More emotional waters tumble before I can see any clearing, insight, or retribution.
Still affected by my predicament of despair, I say, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I have no direction. I have lost my way.” Tears stream, but I can finally breathe into the day that has worn me down. Feeling my emotions allows freedom to release, a relief after a day of trapped, hidden, fear filled emotions. My energy pushing away the discomfort exhausted me, suddenly surging upward from opening the enclosed capsule.
Interrupted by my cellphone ring tone on my right, I glance at an unrecognizable number and ignore it. Within seconds, a call waiting beep alarms me as to an incoming call on the landline I occupy in my left hand. Again, the same caller ID number does not trigger a call to action. I mention the number to my supportive listener, announcing that although I have seen it pop up prior to today, I know not whom it belongs, nor does he after a quick discussion. When examining the number again, I tap the number which instantly calls back the missed call. Mistakenly returning the call, I immediately end the call with a single tap.
Yet within two minutes, my cellphone is singing its tune again, and the mystery phone number appears again. This time I answer the call, curious who persistently is attempting to reach me in the past and presently. My husband awaits on the line, listening to a one-sided conversation, as I focus my attention to the incoming call.
“Is this Lisa Edinberg?” an unrecognizable voice asks.
“May I ask who’s calling?” I ask curiously and cautiously, assuming it’s a scam.
“Well, this will sound strange. I found a hard drive to your computer in a hotel room. It has pretty much your whole life on it, and I wanted to return it to you.”
“Ahh, excuse me?” I question, certain he is lying, like the Microsoft scam and call center from India.
“I found your hard drive disk. It has pictures of your family, your kids, your life,” he says confidently, convincingly, and scarily. “I’m in technology and found it, thinking that I’d look at it, figure out whom it belonged to, and return it. If this had happened to me, I would have wanted someone to return it. I’ve had it for a year, but I recently moved, and happened to see it again while unpacking. Finally I looked at it, and can see you’d probably want this back. I would. So I looked you up.”
“And where exactly did you find this?” I ask, fearful of what he is saying, but still skeptical.
“I found it in a hotel at West 57th Street in New York,” he says.
Knowing this hotel is the business hotel my husband uses, and I have stayed at prior, I say,”Can you hold on a moment?” I turn to the phone in my left hand, ear pressed, mind preoccupied with worry and concern.”There is a guy saying that he found my hard drive in a hotel at West 57th Street in New York and wants to return it to me?”
My husband immediately corroborates the possibly explanation with, “Yes, when we wiped the old computer, you gave me the hard drive to store. I had planned to bring it to my office, and threw it in my car. I saw it in my car in New York when I traveled on business, but thought it dropped out of my car. But I probably took it into the hotel thinking I didn’t want to leave it in my car in the New York City. It’s ours.”
“Oh my God, really? That’s unbelievable. So it’s ours?”
” Yeah, can he get it to my New York office?” he asks.
Turning to my right, I ask, still amazed at the possibility of this finding by a random stranger, “Do you know where we live? What else is on it?”
“Well I believe you live…,” and states my street, my husband’s name. “There’s a lot of your life, you’re a writer, so there’s your writing,…”
He may have mentioned more, but I hear nothing but the fact that he has read my writing. I think, what has he read? My writings are the most personal revelations of my life, and therefore, my heart beats with fear, recognizing the gravity of what he is saying. It occupies my truth; it’s personal, vulnerable, and a total revealing of who I am. What has he read, I continue to wonder. Has he read my books I have written, the motherhood essays, my memoir.
“What have you read of mine?” I inquire, amazed at the possibility of what he knows about me, still a bit afraid.
“Well, there are poems, writing, and to find you, I’ve seen your website of your writing. It’s good.” he says casually.
“It’s good?” I say incredulously, as if what he’s saying is much more important than the fact he is holding a decade of photos of my children, knows where I live, and has years of my documents at his fingertips. “You are talking to an insecure writer. You’ve read my writing and it’s good?” I repeat, uncertain and unsure what I think of this fact.
“Yeah, you’re a writer. I have read some of it. It’s good,” he emphasizes.
At least this is what translates in my head, baffled and elated that someone that is not my friend or family member, thinks my writing is good. Waiting all day as to my next step into a writing career, and a stranger calls telling me I am, it is good enough. I give him an address to send the hard drive to, thanking him for finding me and his persistency to return the disk. The writing, the vital declaration of his findings, is the only comment that matters.
What are the chances that on this day, while I discuss my failed future, feeling the lowest of lows, a stranger calls to inform me of his discovery from a hotel room a year earlier, acknowledging my writing, giving me a direction I was seeking. It feels like the universe called to answer my inquiry. Instinctually he must have felt the need to call and took action. The universe was also persistent, calling repeatedly to reach me. Several calls to gather my attention, answering this call was a blessing.
Besides faith in humanity that people inherently do the right thing, I was given a gift. Writing for me is about revealing truth, empathizing with others on journeys similar to mine, and enabling readers to experience my life stories and healing with the possibility of relating them to their own lives. A hard drive of my life is as vulnerable as writing. What I experienced when I realized he knew the depths of my life is the same as exposing my writing to the world. Fear keeping me from “being all in” as a memoirist is about allowing the vulnerability of truth to illuminate through the words. Great strength exists among the warriors known as memoirists. Speaking one’s truth, revealing the deepest aspects of one’s life takes courage. Yet the relationship between the reader and its author is a sacred sharing. Within the writing is a large net that casts connection between its author and reader, establishing a feeling of, “Me, too.” It teaches others how to heal, reveal their truths, and grow as human beings towards greater consciousness.
Therefore, when the universe calls, answer it!