The other day, I told my friend Elizabeth what I was thinking. She responded in the best way possible.
“You are,” she said, “right on time.”
Her words landed and made me feel grateful and joyful. Here I am exactly, where I’m supposed to be.
This week, my new book “I’ve Been Thinking… Reflections, Prayers and Meditations for a Meaningful LIfe” arrives in bookstores everywhere. Right on time. The fact that there’s a book at all is a testament to you, the readers of The Sunday Paper. Many of you suggested that I curate my “I’ve Been Thinking” columns and bind them together into a book. Voila, here it is!
This book couldn’t have come out last year or the year before. I wasn’t ready then. But, now I am. Thank you.
Today, I’m knee-deep in gratitude to those who have helped me, sustained me, and supported me along this journey we call life. I like where I am. As Hafiz says, I like that I am in a place that God circled on a map just for me.
I feel lucky to be in this place that will continue to move with me, and I with it. I want to keep growing, evolving and learning. I want to become wiser, humbler and smarter. I want to get more courageous and more vulnerable.
I now understand that I’m part introvert and part extrovert. I’m part warrior and part nurturer. I relish my privacy and yet, I also understand that I can use my public voice for good. I know I’m a series of contradictions, and I hope you are, too.
On this Sunday, I stand and kneel on solid ground. I share with you an excerpt from my new book below, as well as essays from a few of my other favorite voices. The women we feature below my column today wrote exclusive essays for The Sunday Paper about what they’ve been thinking as well.
I want my book — and this Sunday Paper — to always help you realize that your own thoughts are worthy. I want them to be something that helps you decide what a meaningful life looks like for you. Let my thoughts, and the thoughts of the others we share today, get you thinking about how to live, love and move humanity forward for yourself.
I’ve been thinking about how to live a meaningful life for pretty much all of my life.
You see, I grew up in a family where people did really big things. They ran for President. They started programs that changed people’s lives. They gave speeches that moved the world. And they never ever gave up trying to make our planet a better place.
Having come from all that, I’ve thought a lot about how I could create my own space, forge my own path, come up with my own thoughts and beliefs, find my own purpose and mission.
Of course, the quest for a meaningful life is not mine alone. In fact, I believe that every single one of us is here on this earth for a reason. I believe it is our life’s work to figure out who we are, what we think, what our gifts are, and how we can make a difference in this world.
Figuring that out takes time and thought. A meaningful life doesn’t mean a perfect life. It means making mistakes. It means getting up and trying again and again. It requires strength, faith, hope, and love.
It hasn’t always been easy to figure out what I, Maria, believe. Thinking and writing have helped me get there.
My hope is that my words will help you chart your path to your own meaningful life. I hope the thoughts expressed here will give you material to meditate on—inspiring you to think, write, and reflect on what makes life meaningful to you.
Because, let’s face it: Life is one hell of a rollercoaster ride. At times we feel totally in charge of the journey and love the ride. At other times we feel completely overwhelmed and want to get off. Throughout our lives, we’re by turns strong, then weak. We’re quite sure we know what we’re doing, and then we’re utterly and totally lost. We feel elated, and then depressed. We act powerfully, then feel like victims. We’re buoyed by courage, then scared out of our wits. We feel a part of a community, and then we feel totally alone. We take pride in our accomplishments, then we want to crumble with shame over our mistakes.
I have felt all of this. And what helps me get through it is my faith, my family, my friends, and my writing.
My writing comes from a place deep in my heart and my mind. Friends and family have often joked that I think too much and I should relax. But for now, thinking and then writing about my life and the world around me helps me to get clear and find peace.
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