October 22, 2011

Say What You Need to Say

Say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say ay ay ay ay ay.  ~John Mayer


I write letters. To celebrities.  Musicians.  Yoga teachers.  I’ve had one-sided conversations with Dave Matthews and Stephen Cope. It is foolish, yes. I feel like our friend, Jon, who writes to Mt. Dew with his opinions.

But I can’t be held responsible for words I write after a bad blood sugar night – the circumstance under which many of these letters have been written-all sleep deprived and open.  Just the other day I wrote Ellen a letter,telling her how her humor helped me wait out scary high blood sugar as I read her book, deep in the night.

I haven’t always written letters to strangers, expressing a response to something I read, or a song, or a movie (like the email to Sean Penn after being moved by the beauty of “Into the Wild”).   The open-book letter writing started soon after my son’s diagnosis with Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes when he was two – almost twelve years ago.

The first letter I remember writing of this nature was to Carolyn Myss, author of “Anatomy of the Spirit”, whose words I inhaled on a plane ride to St. Louis on the way to a friend’s wedding not long after diagnosis.  It was the first time I’d been alone to really absorb the past month.  Her words pierced my fear and provided a symbolic view of what was going on which has gotten me through to this day, that disease is full of spirit and is a yoga practice in its own right.  She gave me a way to look
beyond the pancreas to something bigger and more true.

So I had to tell her.


one of over 50,000 finger pokes my
son’s endured in the past 11 years;
about 10-12 checks/day and throughout the night.


Most letters I fire off quick, raw, and in the moment before I have time to become rational.  I don’t expect them to be read by the intended or anyone in their camp (especially the ones to Obama – man, was I honest in those); in fact, given the emoting, I sometimes count on and hope for them not to be read.    I know as I’m writing them it’s really for myself.  When I have something to say, now I just say it because something about being so true feels amazing.

No word back from Ellen. Dave or Sean either.  It’s OK. The yoga of disease broke open a truthfulness in me, a “visceral need for self expression,” as Stephen Cope teaches us crises have a way of doing.  A way to penetrate the illusion.


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