A Personal Manifesto

There is something extremely powerful about a manifesto. The way it sums up one’s ideology and values. The way it calls others to action or to a life worth living. As I get older, and hopefully more mature, I find myself desiring to put into writing my vision, my values, my raison d’être. I want to sum up succinctly the things that matter to me, to construct a mirror with which I can reflect on whether or not I am living well. I’ve come across a handful of manifestos in the past little while, including this and this, and they inspire me to draft my own. 

Obviously, this is something that will take time, and more thought than I can give in just a Sunday afternoon. Perhaps this is good practice for me in the art of slowing down. I need to get my ideas down on paper, and distill then down to the most elemental priorities that I hold as important in my life. I know community engagement will be in there, and authentic faith. But beyond that, I am still finding my way. I need to look at the way that I spend my time, and the things that I consider most often. That will give me a true picture of what I value and what I do not. 

I want to write something beautiful, but also something strong. Something realistic, but also something that leaves room for growth. I want to be able to write it out and have it speak truth into my own life and the lives of those around me.

And now I turn to wikihow and huffington post for some steps on how to get started. 

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Reading and Writing

I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. And once I reached university, I became acutely aware not only of my lack of writing prowess, but also of how unread I was. At 16, I had not read The Outsiders, To Kill a Mockingbird, or anything by Maya Angelou. Not to say that those are symbols of a well-read adolescent, but rather, that they often came up in “literary” conversations, to which I had nothing of value to contribute.

Growing up, I read a lot. But in my formative preteen years, no one told me I should seek out more than the few YA fiction series that I gravitated towards. My interest in fiction waned and I turned to non-fiction. Left alone to my own devices, I sought out books on architecture and home design, because those were what interested me. I brought home books with titles like Prefab Today and Japanese Small Homes that were full of floor plans. I would sketch them in my little notebook and then draw out what I imagined they would look like in 3-D. I owe much of my visual/spatial abilities to this exercise. 

Now, almost a decade later, maternity leave has given me the gift of being able to read more. And to write more. I am enriched by what others have learned and have captured in words. I, in turn, also have the time and space to attempt to do the same. Or at least attempt to. I may never be as eloquent or complex as some of my friends who have already honed their craft for years and years, but what I have learned thus far from reading Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is that writing, like any art form, is a craft that requires practice. I’m sure that I will pen a significant amount of truly atrocious writing (the majority of it unfinished), and only rarely will I write something I feel moderately comfortable sharing, but alas, this is a necessary part of the process.

And so I return to where I started. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer, but perhaps with some trial and error, and through studying and writing with others, I’ll begin to see myself in a new light.