Welcome Into My Mind

Welcome Into My Mind  - Maria Shirver's Sunday Paper
“True navigation begins in the human heart. It's the most important map of all.”
Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey

I've Been Thinking...

Some weeks I have no idea what to write for my essay here in The Sunday Paper. Some weeks I just sit down and start writing, not yet knowing where my mind will take me.

This is where it took me this week.

I decided I wanted to welcome you into my mind. I must admit it’s not always a quiet place. In fact, it’s often way too busy. It’s too restless, critical, and driven sometimes, even for me. It often exhausts me, and I know it exhausts others. But I’ve also come to view it over the years as beautiful (thanks to therapy, experience, and age). I’ve come to honor its creativity, its glory, its drive, and its imagination.

I marvel at the way it sees out beyond to a place I’ve never been. The mind is truly extraordinary, as is the heart. The heart…what a road we ask it to chart. Life swells it with joy, wonder, and awe, and then it breaks it wide open. It makes it ache so bad you can’t catch your breath.

Hearts are strong and oh so tender. They get moved by the smallest acts of humanity: music, a smile, someone’s eyes. They crack under the sting of harsh words, devastating news, or abandonment. Most of us find ourselves, at one point or another, picking up the fragments of our hearts and trying to glue them back together.

This week, I struggled with both my mind and my heart. I struggled to make sense of things. I struggled with my faith. Everywhere my mind went for news this week, it read about hate. It detected fear. Violence was the lead story on almost every news show. And despite all of this, people carried on. 

Those who lost loved ones in Buffalo, Houston, Chicago, and everywhere else carried on. So did those who wanted to celebrate their kids graduating from school, or those who went to weddings, as I did. We’ve closed our eyes and tried to believe that love will save us all in the end. 

I do believe that to be true, but in the meantime, we have to keep slugging through the hate, violence, misinformation, and darkness that try to come in and take up residence in our minds, our hearts, and our country. 

As I was pondering what to write this week, two friends wrote me notes that gave me hope, made me laugh, and brought me light. First, my friend Allison sent me a beautiful poem by David Whyte. I love his poetry and his way with words. His poem “Everything Is Waiting for You” is so moving. It begins, “Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime.” He wraps up with this call: “Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.”

Amen to that. I think we all need to put down our aloneness and ease—or better yet, jump—into a conversation about how we can stamp out the hate that seems to be rising. We need to discuss how we can stamp out white supremacy, which has no place in our society. We need to talk about how we can stamp out othering, which masks fear and a scarcity mindset. We need to put healing front and center.

Here we are about to kick off a summer where baby formula is in short supply, where COVID refuses to loosen its grip, and where there is now talk of a monkeypox virus to just add to the angst and anxiety that is already everywhere. We cannot afford to take the summer off.

What we also cannot do is think we are alone. What we cannot do is lose faith. What we cannot do is give in or give up. There is so much at stake. Our minds, our hearts, our loved ones, our families, our hope, our wildly authentic lives. They’re all at stake. 

So, as this week comes to its end and a new one arrives, may your beautiful mind and tender heart lift you above the noise and the hate. May you quiet yourself and allow the beauty your mind can envision to be your guide moving forward. May the love in your heart that you were born with keep your faith in the possibilities of humanity.

As this week winds down, I am thinking of all that. I am thinking of all the lights who have written in this week’s issue with the hope of guiding humanity forward. I’m so grateful to them.

I think of Amelia Earhart, my mother’s hero (whose transatlantic flight anniversary was yesterday). She saw in herself something magical, something groundbreaking, something brave, and went for it! She didn’t give into fear. She didn’t let her mind dissuade her from doing something that had never been done by a woman. She let her mind take her there. 

So this week, I hope you also let your mind take you out beyond. Don’t lose hope in the news of the day. Don’t lose faith in the stories that distract you. See yourself as a trailblazer, as brave, and go for it.

P.S. If you need a smile, please read this note from my friend Nadine:

Dear Maria,

This wild synergy of souls and friendships that permeate our beings

And I wondered why in a world of war and hate crimes,

where babies have nothing to eat,

do men demand we bring more hungry babies into this world?

And on this day, where life on earth is barely tolerable for so many

Did Congress hold hearings today about UFOs

As if outer space could be the answer

Can they not read the room?

Or, are they thinking of catching a one-way ride to Mars

On a Bezos/Branson shuttle?

We are now officially living on another planet.

I love you,

This note simply made me smile and feel grateful for friends. We all need friends. Real, living, breathing, thinking, honest friends.

Oh, and P.P.S. don’t forget to put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. Start wherever you want, wherever you are. As David Whyte wrote, “everything is waiting for you!” Isn’t that a beautiful thought? That gives me hope. Let's go!




Dear God, in this world filled with noise and pain, help my heart and mind to find peace and quiet. From that rest, give me the strength to stamp out hate and usher in healing. Remind me to put down the weight of aloneness whenever it arrives and see the bravery within me. Amen.

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