Jewish Journal

the kids who write

by Michelle Azar

August 19, 2014 | 5:27 pm

Sunday I had the good fortune of watching my eldest daughter participate in WRITOPIA LAB’s summer culmination at Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica. She stood at a lectern reading the first chapter of her novel as though this was her Sunday norm.

I sat there with pride of course, but mostly in serious gratitude for this Steve Lewis and his amazing cast of published authors who spent their afternoons helping kids like mine share their thoughts.

And their thoughts were profound. There were the sweet younger students who wrote about platypus worlds and candy communities, and a couple of gentle poets brewing, but the bulk of the students hovered in their early teen years and seemed to have a similar set of questions on their minds:

What is this thing called life all about? How do we give it meaning? And How do we find our way when we feel as alone as we do sometimes?

The themes were presented in some very viable movie versions too- a “hunger games meets divergent” sorta thing was definitely offered at times, as was some stellar lines, none of them my old brain can recall at the moment of course.

In the aftermath of Robin Williams’ death, I can only offer a reiteration of what I have been hearing- that we need to lift the veil on sadness, make it okay to talk about feelings such as loneliness or the deep pain that is isolation. I kept hearing these beautiful children who were giving voice to some painful, albeit fictional, situations, BUT getting such positive feedback, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this couldn’t help even just a bit?

Now, I have been around the block enough to know that its not just the quick fix that a little applause can bring to fill the inner well. In fact, it is sometimes the addiction to the external validations that bring a person to their knees in depression. But maybe if we can offer our young people the ability to feel good about their shadow sides more, about their unanswered questions, then maybe… ?

Maybe we too could learn to stop ourselves when we need to, and take a moment or two, or three or more, to applaud our shadows, and our bruised questions. And take heart to find connection with others.

Practice, practice, and all will come…. In our bodies and our minds.



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Michelle fell in love with the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, the system of Hatha Yoga taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, some 13 years ago while doing a play in San Francisco. Having...

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