Prompts are meant to trigger memories and stories for writers. In my poetry class a couple of weeks ago the prompt for the next week was "letting go". This is a class full of older individuals -- and I do mean individuals, usually less than half the class actually write to the prompt. Other poetic subjects are on their minds. But several did write to the prompt, including me. My thought upon hearing the words was immediately about the often unrecognized moment of letting go that is drifting into sleep. And the corrolary of being unable to turn off the day's concerns and sleep -- a subject written about by a woman in my writing class (no prompt given) who described her methods for inducing sleep: deep breathing, mantas, etc.
I offered the prompt a small, informal writing group that formed over the summer. We are all women, all of retirement age with a wide variety of backgrounds. Six of us met yesterday and read our letting go experiences. At this age everyone has let go of man things, children leaving home, mariages, parents dying, dreams, resentments, disappointments. As I've always found in groups, especially women, but also men (in their own masculine way which is nearly always different than for women) there is an surprisingly deep openness and sharing that goes beyond what is written. Others speak of their experiences of that particular kind of letting go, the writer may explain more of the percipitating events. An emotional closeness becomes a gauzy bubble around the group. A usually unspoken (but sometimes plainly stated, especially in groups of men and women) guideline pertains: "what's said in this room, stays in this room." Everyone respects one another's vulnerability that made the sharing possible.
I think this kind of openness happens in support groups, in AA groups, and perhaps others. As a writer, I feel that a group of writers (some new to writing, most wannabes, some experieneed), delve deeply to find the right words -- have the time to think through what they are writing. This can't happen in spontaneous discussions. I find myself leaving such gatherings touched by others experiences. My own perceptions are deepened. I know how rarely deeply felt experiences are discussed among friends, and how wonderful that such groups often are made up of people who barely know one another ... but after a few weeks of sharing writing, actually know one another better than they know long time acquaintances. Rather than an immediate need to share a problem as in the support groups, these writers are usually people with the equanimity to look at past experiences and explore them for new insights.
I am grateful to the woman who brought the group together, that is a special talent. The classes I teach are self-selected. They sign up for a 12-week course. They are not obliged to attend, it is not a school per se. The group I'm writing about has a different dynamic. I'm very happy to be an equal, looking inward for what a prompt means to me.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!