|courtsey : Literature Studio|
I had come across Cheryl on the web especially on Rumpus as the most Radical of all Agony Aunts: but never known the full force of her writing .
I believe in the Theory Of Attraction .
That people who come in your life in a way that resonates or Events that touch you do so for a reason.That they are feeding a thirst or a hunger ; filling a void inside you; showing a light to your darkness.
Why did I call Sangeeta Khanna that evening ?Why my ears perked at the words writing workshop and how I managed to squeeze my way in at the last minute in the already full session ? I needed someone to light my way and there she was :
Before I did this workshop , had only a vague idea about how a Memoir was different from an Autobiography .Its not just that Autobiographies are written by famous people and memoirs by ordinary folks.
A memoir is a slice of life story made meaningful when you see it through the prism of time and experience .Its not just a chronology of events and dates and public minutiae of a life, but a narrative of emotional consequences of events and spiritual and mental growth that happened as a result .Thus the Personal becomes the story of the Universal as coping with darkness and pain, surmounting odds and getting over irreparable loss is the struggle of every human being. Of course to focus the lens on your own failings and the painful route to growth requires rare courage and commitment to honesty. So writing Memoirs is as foolhardy and as liberating as riding a motorbike to the highest peaks .
Cheryl wrote her memoir "Wild"- the story of a 100 day hike along the Pacific Coast Trail after her mom who was her anchor ,died of Cancer.In her grief she felt unable to cope , let her marriage dissolve ,saw her step father become a stranger and her siblings get scattered.And in this Great Alone she thought that she might as well go in the wilderness to find herself. Its not just an account of a journey but an account of a Transformation.
And now this fearless pioneer woman was right in front of me at the American Centre to talk about stuff that she loved !Cheryl was not some intellectual Giant sitting with the shiny Writer Hat on her head .She was as real as the ever compassionate , close confidante Sugar in her best loved Agony Aunt avatar.
She posed some difficult and searching questions before us : and asked her to delve into our consciousness to write the answers on the sheets before us .
We could share what we had written if we wanted to .And when we did she would exclaim or laugh or feel with us .That was the unique beauty and love that she infused in the session.
The whole two hour plus session : the way she elicited responses by nudging and persuading us to inhabit our pasts was a unique experience .And also emotionally draining.
The biggest Take Home message was : take everything that life has given you : when you embrace it and make it your own it turns into a Beautiful Thing ,a thing that nurtures you .
Literature Studio and American Centre deserve a Big Round of Applause for making this happen and we are thirsty for more.