One thing that I try to be mindful of is how impressive our practices may sound to others when we write about them. We compare ourselves to others — whether that’s human nature or learned behavior is irrelevant, in that it does not change that this is something that we do. We can compare ourselves favorably or we can be harsh with ourselves, or we can hold ourselves above others. I tend to fall in that second category. I don’t do enough, I’m not fill-in-the-blank enough. The upside of thinking I’m not, well, enough, is that it makes it difficult for me to hold myself above others. The downside, of course, is that it’s difficult to think well of myself.
It is our own responsibility to not be over-awed by what others might do or accomplish. It is our responsibility to know ourselves, our relationship with our gods and spirits, and to know where we want to go. It’s very easy to say that, but it’s harder to do. I try to stay mindful of this when writing about my own practice, which is why Keeping It Real is a phrase I come back to again and again.
Poseidon’s been in my life for just about two decades. I’ve been in the practice of writing Him letters since almost as long. I’ve kept a practice of using journals for said letters since 2003. I’m mindful of how that could sound. If someone else was saying that? I’d think, “Wow, that’s a long time. I could never do that/I shouldn’t even bother starting that/how impressive that must look, all those letters.” And, because I don’t think I’m special, I suspect there are others out there whose thoughts might travel down a similar road.
The blue book is a book of letters and prayers; it’s half-full, because I decided I wanted it to be all prayers instead. The top book is letters; it’s nearly full but then I wanted a new book. Both were made by a dear friend. The black book is a fancy dancy leather-bound Italian book with a rampant lion on the cover. I have a lion-Poseidon thing. This book spans years of letters, and only has a few blank pages. The central book is my current letter book, and it’s a Silence Maestas original.
Twelve years sounds impressive. It’s not. There are long stretches when I’ve stopped writing to Him, because life gets busy, because I want the immediacy of being by the shrine, because writing to Him became a way of me to see the distance between us and it hurt too much. I come back to it, because I like it, because I like journaling and I like including Him in the act. My letters to Him are not formal; hell, often they’re not coherent. It’s sorting through emotion and struggling toward the goals He sets for me. It’s my super private space to rail at Him as I need to, to write the ugly things that I may be feeling, to help release them.
When I say I’ve been writing letters to Poseidon for twelve years (longer, but for twelve years regularly and/or mindfully, as a practice) it sounds big. It sounds like I should have book after book after book after book of letters.
Instead I have two mostly filled books, one that’s a mishmash, and one that’s just begun. I have letters jotted in notebooks and some electronic files, too. So, this isn’t everything, but it is the bulk of it.
I share this because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea. I don’t think I’m special, but I do think I’ve been devoted to Poseidon for a long time. I’m mindful, always, of how, back when I first swore my first oath to Him, how I thought of people who’d been on their path for as long as I have now been on mine. I’d think, wow, it’s got to be great to have such history behind them. I’d think, wow, how impressive. I’m mindful of that, and I want to be clear that how these things sound are often not nearly as impressive as they look.