Got take-home Chinese food last night, tucked in to watch a good movie and almost didn’t look at the little slip of paper inside my fortune cookie. Usually inane –you will be taking an unexpected journey soon, or good luck is heading your way. . . Instead, it read:
We must always have old memories and young hopes.
How true is that?!
Memories, good and not-so-good, are behind us. We can cherish them, hurt over them, hold them close or try to push them away. We can write them in a book (as I have done), turn them into poetry (as I also have done), speak them to a therapist (uh, yah, that too), or just brood over them while they make us melancholy (which I mostly do not).
Memories do not tell us who we are, necessarily, but they pretty accurately record history –our version of it at least. They can act as trail markers, leading us back to or forever away from places, people, dried out aspirations, unfinished business, childhood dreams, abiding love or lost love (you know the list). Memories can be emotional roadblocks, where we get stuck or shutdown, or inspirational triggers that spur us into action.
The wisdom found in my fortune cookie implies that old memories, especially good ones, can seed new endeavors that fill us (and often others) with fresh hope. I know it has been true for me.
The first book I wrote I co-authored. It was a devotional book published by a religious organization and widely distributed, even translated and sent overseas. Though I wrote close to half of the entries it was suggested to me that I remain unnamed since I was going through a divorce. Consequently, it was his name, his fame, and I got buried in the shadows though he was honest enough to pay me half of the royalties (at least for the first year or so).
Inspired by the experience, and challenged by another publisher who had heard about me and knew I was writing another manuscript (this time my own), I wrote an autobiography about abuse recovery. Written with raw self-honesty, it is the story about my efforts to break free from verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Since I wrote it primarily for my children so they could eventually make sense of their tangled childhood, and since I didn’t want to name names, I used a pen name, EsthersChild. Though it won an Angel Award in 1990, it went out of print a few years later.
A published author, an award-winning author, I was still buried in the shadows.
Three years ago, urged on by friends and readers who wanted my book to continue to be available to women who could be helped by my story, I decided to re-publish my book under a new title, Darkness Overturned, through a self-publishing company. Memories of being published twice (albeit under less than the best of circumstances for a budding author) spurred me on. This time I put my actual name on the inside of my book but continue to use EsthersChild on the cover. (Though not mentioned anywhere in this book of no names, my mother’s name was Esther). And I continue to have “young hopes” even though, wouldn’t you know, I cannot be listed as an author on a website “where the writers are” because I am technically self-published and can only be listed as a member.
Maybe my next book (with workbook and accompanying CD) will finally do the trick. This is the year I’ve dedicated to writing it and, as the old saying goes, hope springs eternal!