Live your life to be a good example of what you believe.
Robert D. Hales
I’ve been a “ Twitterer”—if that’s a word—for a few months now. It started as a way to monitor if the man in office was truly tweeting what memes and news reported, because honestly I couldn’t believe anyone in that office would say these things, right? To my surprise, he was. I’d shake my head in disbelief the few times a week I would check my account and find fodder, unfortunately, for my Biki page on Facebook. Beyond that, I didn’t really leverage the platform. It was a very stream of consciousness dialogue with so many individuals contributing in a succinct, rapid format that I didn’t desire to take the time to digest and process. Facebook and Instagram were enough for me.
But last fall, as my illustrator and I were getting ready to launch our children’s book and I was researching marketing strategies, I found reference in a blog about the #writingcommunity on Twitter. It was highly recommended as a place to find fellow writers, information on self-publishing vs traditional publishing, querying, and more. So I reformatted my Twitter account, going from private to public, and started to learn the ropes of the Twitterverse. To my surprise, I wasn’t inundated with the type of sketchy private messages I receive via Facebook from strangers and people I thought I knew IRL but obviously did not. A three day “jail” on Facebook sealed the deal with my Twitter experience. That weekend I spent solely on Twitter and met a few friendly writers who took me under their wing and showed me the Twitter ropes (thanks AJ and JD!). After a few “writers lifts” designed to “meet” other writers on Twitter, I grew from one follower to more than 8,000 today. Most importantly, I found a few other “people” that I enjoyed chatting with and so many talented writers I was just blown away. Pretty soon I’d made “friends” who were inspiring, both professionally and personally, from around the globe (like you Michael!).
One of the fun things about Twitter is the “accounts” I follow that toss out questions. A few trigger me to stop and think about things that often don’t come up in my everyday conversations. “What would you do if you knew when you were going to die?” “What attracts you to a person?” “What do you dislike about yourself?” “What would you tell yourself 10 years ago if you could go back?” Sometimes the answers come out instinctively, and other times I sit and mull over a topic. I find it a useful exercise to think about certain things I have resolved in my life, but have I really? I have found that over the years, things I have “put to rest” at one age can look very different from my eyes of today. And some things I think I firmly believe are products of some old bias or belief system that I may no longer follow and bear readjusting. I admit it can be quite disconcerting when I am already living in a world turned upside down to think that those beliefs that anchor me to my foundation and keep me grounded are ones I find questioning.
It seems a most inconvenient time to find myself unsure in a time when it’s almost essential to be sure, if only to stay afloat. But perhaps that is the best time to reflect and think about things we often take as truths, but may only be conditional truths that serve to buffet us in one situation but not another. My life has become a narrow focus on the most critical aspects that myself and loved ones need to survive. With the ongoing pandemic, things have become so chaotic that some days I don’t have time to breathe. Although we now have a routine, albeit a foreign one, for the most part, I don’t have all that much time for introspection. I am on auto pilot. And lately I have faced decisions that test who I am and what I believe in ways I never thought I would be. I can only hope the decisions I have made align with my values, the ones honed by experiences over the years of my life. The ones shaped by those who stood behind me and stand with me on my journey and by what I have taken on as promises to myself and others as obligations which fill my life. That those values that drive my decisions today are the right ones, whatever right means. But some nights, I think back and wonder. Like a question I might read on my Twitter timeline: would you do it again?
For isn’t that a type of litmus test?
And always I say yes.