In March of 2008 I was reading Eckhart Tolle’s A NEW EARTH and underlined these passages: “Some changes may look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge….When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life….If uncertainty is unacceptable, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.” I felt inspired by the book, made a mental note to read it again soon, stuffed it in my bedside table, and got back to work.

In July of 2008, as I was contending with some particularly prickly patches of chaos and mayhem in my position of VP, Publisher at Simon & Schuster, I scribbled the following words in my journal: "Is this all one big message—a flag, an arrow, a road sign— telling me to go somewhere else, do something else? To do something NEW? Is it my time to go and try something new, fresh, a new beginning? “When you're ready to take a risk, the world will crack open.” The world seems to be ready for me to take some risks. Now I just need to be ready and willing!" I wrestled with the tumult of feelings, hurriedly wrote the words to get them out of my system, secreted my journal away, and got back to work.

In May of 2009, after nearly nineteen years with the company, I was laid off. Although I’d felt inspired and energized by Tolle’s words and although I’d expressed serious questions and doubts in my journal a year before, I didn’t for one moment recall anything Tolle said nor did I recall writing those words. All I knew was that I was being shaken to my roots by events out of my control—the world was cracked open and uncertainty was unraveling itself about me.

It’s May 2010—and today marks the year anniversary of my last day with the company. It’s a day that marks an end and a beginning of such magnitude that I cannot but witness this day emotionally, physically, and spiritually. This past year’s been a time of enormous upheaval and great calm, anger and peace, imbalance and precision, doubt and determination, disbelief and proof, betrayal and friendship, loss and family. Having been forced into a position of having no choice but to make some remarkable unexpected choices, I’ve wended my way through a year that has led up to this day. It was only a few weeks ago that I happened to re-read those lines in Tolle and discovered my journal entry—and today I marvel at my place in a universe that delivers messages to us with far more clarity than I will ever be able to see or sense.

In hindsight, I wish I’d somehow documented this past year more thoroughly, perhaps jotting down a word or phrase to define and capture the essence of each passing day. But who among us has the wherewithal to do that? There’s so much I won’t ever remember. What I’m left with of this past year are the memories and repercussions of some of the lowest lows and some of the highest highs I’ve ever experienced. And in between I’ve lived a whole lot of plain old life. I’ve come to appreciate that so often it’s how we live the plain old life in between the extremes that helps us to know better who we are and of what we’re capable.

On this day and at this point in my life, I am infused with a quiet stillness and a crackling like lightning. Dreaming and wildly awake. Rooted and soaring in flight. And so, it certainly seems to have all transpired just as it was meant to: Change happened in order to create space in my life for something new to emerge. It was time for the world to crack open. It was time for a new story to begin. And so, the story is unfolding. I have no idea what comes next. And I can’t think of a more wonderful reason to get up tomorrow.

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks llc



“Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we’re going.”

This quotation is from the senior behavioral analyst on the TV show, Criminal Minds. It’s a series I love because it delves so deeply into some intense stories, relationships, feelings, and motivations. The people profiled are some of the most disturbed and pathological figures ever created – and, I’ll admit it, in the way that some people love horror movies, I am fascinated and horrified by the extreme personalities and characters on the series.

I’ve never had nightmares after watching the show (and that’s even after watching four back-to-back episodes when I was home sick earlier this week) and I’ve sometimes wondered why that is. I’ve come to realize it’s because just as the show repels me because of the pain and violence these catastrophic figures inflict on their victims, the show also confirms and upholds a deep sense of hopefulness, a sense of right to combat the wrong, a reminder that kindness and human connection does exist to counter wickedness and alienation.

As a publisher, editor and reader, I’ve always held to the belief that the best books—the books that speak deeply to me-- explore by what means a main character finds their light out of the dark. As teenagers, as adults, as people – we are all at one time or another on a journey to find clarity through chaos, peace through turmoil, calm through storm, safety through fear and doubt. The path on which we traverse is not easy. We don’t generally give up, though. We keep going. And, why? Because the promise of good over evil, of happiness over sadness, of healing over illness, is too great to ignore. It is the light we’re all of us trying to reach in whatever way we can. And as we make our way through the ills, the doubts, the hindrances, the barriers, the pain, the ugliness, we become stronger. We survive. We grow. We share our stories so others don’t feel so alone, so we don’t feel so alone.

The scars of living a life can be enormous, overwhelming, desperate. I hold to the notion that it’s these same scars that, if handled gently and allowed to heal properly, can become our personal roadmaps to finding ourselves to be braver, stronger, better prepared than we ever thought imaginable. Better prepared to be mentors, parents, healers, lovers, storytellers – in a position to share our lives with others in order to secure for our world the sense of hopefulness, of right, of kindness and human connection that is so essential to our future.

(c) emma d dryden, drydenbks llc