I grew up in a family of German Jewish immigrants who had been lucky to leave Germany early enough to miss some of the worst abuses of the Nazi regime. I used to think that meant that they were unharmed by their experience, and it didn’t occur to me until I started searching for my mother’s past that they were trauma survivors nonetheless, and that the losses and unhealed wounds of their lives had become entwined in my own beliefs.
Enter the issue of trust vs. anxiety. It became my special mission to transform the paranoia and mistrust I carried with me–and maybe growing up in New York fanned the flames a little too–to trusting life and not thinking the difficult events that occurred were my enemy. Along the way, I developed a practice I called “the Trust Log.” I chose to give power to every positive thing that happened, especially those unexpected co-incidences, or happy surprises that occur when you don’t plan them. The friend you were missing just happens to call from India…the song on the radio echos the very feeling you were pondering…you take a different route and run into a colleague you knew twenty years ago.
I used to write each thing that happened in a journal with stars and exclamation points. The odd thing is that the more you take notice, the more often these things seem to happen. Now I don’t always write them down but I say “Trust Log” out loud, and make it a habit to mention the happy occurance to someone else. Today was rich in the evidence of a trustworthy universe. Yesterday my husband and I walked our dog along the Albany waterfront. When we got home, he realized that his cell phone had fallen out of its case. We rushed back to the trail but darkness was falling and we gave up empty handed. First thing this morning, we got a phone call from a local veterinarian who had found the phone. Yay! Life is good.
Then I met a friend to catch up on our lives. We batted around some ideas for getting THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH out to a bigger national audience. My friend made some suggestions that sounded like a big stretch to me, but one idea seemed really exciting. “OK, I’ll do it,” I told her, but wondered as I drove off if I could really follow through. I turned on the car radio to KDFC (my mother did gift me a love of classical music), just as radio host Dianne Nicolini took a request from someone to play her mother’s favorite piece–Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I took a deep breath, lifted my gaze upward, and said “Trust Log.” The Moonlight Sonata was also one of my mother’s favorites and it seemed like a confirmation from her to trust and go forward. After all, the book is about uncovering her hidden life.
These things may not seem big and important, but for me they are little taps on the shoulder that in the mysterious weaving that connects us all, I am not alone, and life is trustworthy, even if it is not always easy.