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  • Mj Pettengill

The Island is the Void


Message in a Bottle    (Creative Commons)
Message in a Bottle (Creative Commons)

I recently told a friend that I was stuck on a tiny island in a river surrounded by raging water. Why wouldn't someone fetch a lifeline and race to the scene? Because I wasn't asking to be rescued but acknowledging my predicament.

Writer's Block is a common term in my world. I recall deep discussions with friends about navigating it. However, it was never an issue for me because of how I framed it.


In everyday life, we are part of a rhythm. Like any great symphony, there are many layers. Depending on how your masterpiece is composed, complexities beneath the surface exist, unknown to all. Yet, some comprehend the inner workings of such compositions, while others are fine with reading the score and learning to perform it as best they can.


Good news! My well has not run dry. My daily word count is healthy and abundant. The choice of what to share on this platform is where the void lies. At this time, many events are unfolding that people have chosen to either support or annihilate. I do not wish to inflame one side or another inadvertently. It does not mean that I don't stand in my truth, but I do not want to have long, drawn-out debates with anyone, no matter which side of the fence he or she is on. This brings me to the Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series. The following phrase is the soul of this work, mentioned throughout:

“In God’s eyes, we are the same, no matter which side of the fence we are on.” —Abigail Hodgdon, June 25, 1878.
Carroll County Farm Cemetery, Ossipee, NH, Mj Pettengill
Carroll County Farm Cemetery, Ossipee, NH, Mj Pettengill

This is a recurring theme within the pages of the three books (and the fourth, not yet released). It is also a theme in my daily life. Sadly, our programming dwells in judgment. Once we become aware of this pattern, we can take a step back and allow others with differing views to exist without critique. If it is too much of a challenge, politely withdrawing is always an option. I am not saying to reject your thoughts and ideas, taping your fingers together and your mouth shut.


Consider providing a space for acceptance and neutrality —acceptance that we are all remarkable—neutrality regarding the clear discernment of timing and boundaries. Together, like snowflakes with our beautiful, wildly unique patterns, we have the potential to come together, forming a blizzard. Or we can fall to the earth separate and alone, melting within seconds of our blissful landing, leaving a puddle where a nor'easter could have prevailed. When will we learn? Maybe we aren't ready.


The truth is out there; it looks, sounds, and feels distinctive to each of us. We have our eyes on the screen, but they are not the same screens. We often contain fragments of each other with or without conscious awareness or consent. In a perfect world, unity is attainable and is the solution, but only when we comprehend that we are extraordinary beings fueled by diverse energy origins. It would be optimum if we conducted civilized discussions outside the chaos surrounding us. That being said, I love a healthy debate. However, my blog is not where I want this to take place. I have enjoyed writing about butterflies, flowers, my books, healing, and walks in the deep woods—vital elements of who I am, but sometimes (naturally), I wish to spill my guts onto the page. That is when I write for myself, in my journal, or a letter to my faraway son. I might decide not to write but instead, paint or play my cello. Bathing in the forest, digging in the dirt, or sitting by the pond also summons inner peace.


Please do not mistake this with living in fear or weakness, scorning those who speak their minds, or rejecting free speech. How we feel and interpret the events coming at us at Mach speed is essential. How we go about being genuine agents of change is tricky.


We must strive to maintain awareness when releasing our thoughts and words and pay attention to the cost. Ask yourself if it is worth the price to rally against each other when we all have our distinctive selected origins of incoming information. Speak out, but consider the source and possible outcome of where you invest your energy. It's valuable; use it wisely.


I don't want to go on and on about the constant droning of tree-killing equipment and logging trucks here at every turn. It has profoundly impacted my daily life as it is inescapable. I have poured forth my deepest concerns in response to this senseless killing. At some point, there's that acceptance piece again that I must embrace and comprehend.


Trees are vital to the planet's health, yet my words ring hollow as they fall to the earth in all directions day and night. What can I say? With their roots reaching deep into the soil and outstretched limbs touching the heavens, trees are the wise council—witnesses— providing passageways to the sacred and unseen. At this time, I am their witness. This prayer helps:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Our ability to see in the dark is more significant now than ever. I talk and write about that often, primarily regarding self-trust and taking steps on shaky, uncharted territory. To do that with success and a positive outcome requires self-trust. In light of this turmoil, endings, and new beginnings, I have not successfully fallen back on the butterflies or the latest wildcrafting activities to post here. My challenge is not that my river is dry. It is the opposite. I have many words clawing and pushing to make it to the page.


When I am in the void, I welcome it. Imagine the ocean. Without the dip between the waves, they would cease to exist. We construct some of the most critical thoughts, emotions, and discoveries while floating in our in-between place—the void. When we emerge, we are more likely to have a fresh perspective. Previous views and events that may not have made sense in real-time rise to the surface carrying lessons that we may have missed had we continued in a frenzy. I am finishing the fourth book in my series, formatting a short adult storybook about Glenna, a courageous and funny snowgirl. (I wrote and illustrated this book.) Many are familiar with her adventures.

Glenna the Snowgirl, Mj Pettengill
Glenna the Snowgirl, Mj Pettengill

I am in the autumn mode of digging roots, preparing herbs, and tending to my Duende—creative spirit within. So, the words are the energy and current swirling in the river of my dreams. The island is the void. And there is much more to come. If I jump in and need to climb up on the banks, I pray a tree is left standing for me to find a branch. Peace be with you. ♥