“Defend your inner world. Be present. Be in the moment. Engaged, connected.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Growing up I think I was always defending myself. Or feeling quite often like I had to. I was quiet, different: my family had more money than most of the kids I went to school with and I was very shy. My parents owned a successful business and we had a lot of “stuff” I didn’t see other kids getting. I was always somehow defending myself to them, my life, from taunts and challenges, from kids who thought I was a snob even though they didn’t know me.
The part no one ever saw was me defending myself from my father, emotionally speaking, who was a constant source of criticism and judgment my whole life. I loved animals, drawing, writing, being outside – I didn’t want to run the business and had little interest in it. It didn’t help that I watched my parents fight about it all the time, watched it consume their lives, their health, their happiness. Who would want to carry on that legacy? Not me, no thank you.
While my dad often supported my talent, he negated it, too, telling me I could never make a living at it. I heard his voice for so many years, stopping me from doing anything unsafe. I still hear it sometimes, I think, even though both he and my mom passed away many years ago now.
But I also still hear my mom, who told me to write, draw, paint, do whatever I loved to do. My mom who regretted so much of her own life, regretted the choices she did not make out of fear. My mom, who never wanted me to regret mine.
Much of my adult life has been spent feeling I needed to defend myself, my choices, or preparing to do so, in case anyone should come around looking to pick on me again. I have made many efforts to protect myself from the outside world, from any perceived harm. That is one of the legacies of my childhood.
When I read this quote by Rilke, I understood that writing this blog was allowing me to defend my own inner world, to present it to the outside world, in a way I never could growing up. It is all the things I never had the courage or ability to share then, all the stuff, pleasant and unpleasant, I learned to keep quiet about and continued to closet away for many years. This is my chance, finally, to speak.
To me the quote expresses exactly what writing a blog is about: It allows me, you, anyone who takes the chance to defend their inner world (and not necessarily in an adversarial sense), to express what they believe and reach out to others who may feel inspired or supported themselves by the connection. A blog allows anyone to be present by writing and sharing exactly what they feel compelled to in that moment, whether that’s a story, a photo, a poem, video, music, or in my case, the quote above and the inspiration behind it. A blog engages and connects you not only with your own life, your own creative work or personal journey, but also helps connect you to others, as well. And that’s a pretty cool thing.
The quote applies to anyone, blogger or not. Whoever you are, whatever you are doing, your inner world matters. Your life matters. Stick with it, pay attention, don’t give up.