Why the Family Manifesto almost got hijacked by the past

by | January 9, 2012

Writing the 143-word Family Manifesto took me three agonizing weeks and plunged me into a deep depression.

You see, the fervent ideal expressed in the manifesto is far removed from the harsh reality I experienced.

Day after grievous day, I stared at the blank page.

Night after awful night, I stared at the ceiling.

Casting for fresh ideas only dredged up painful memories.

I’ve been a professional freelance writer for almost six years. I don’t get writer’s block. But blocked I was.

Mired in misery. Gripped by gloom. Saturated with cynicism.

A rudimentary draft was stitched together, then quickly discarded.

At one point I typed disgustedly, “Family is where you get hurt the most,” turned off my computer, and escaped my office.

I returned the next day, hanging by a thread through grim determination and aggressive self-therapy.

The breakthrough came when I shifted from thinking about my personal experience to envisioning the safe environment I desperately crave to create for my children.

I pictured each of my four angelic children.

What do you ache for them to know to their bones, I thought.

And the sun burst through the clouds and the manifesto poured from my soul within minutes.

Only one word was changed afterwards from the original.

I suspect that many people who have purchased the manifesto had a similar experience to mine.

And like me, your deepest desire is to break the cycle and ensure the opposite experience for your children.

And despite your desire, and also like me, I suspect there are times when you fall short of your ideal in how you treat your spouse and children.

And therein lies the power of a prominently displayed manifesto: it is our constant reminder to do, be, and live better.

The more we and our families read it, the more it permeates our subconscious, influences our speech and actions, stretches our vision, purifies our desires.

It is a beacon of hope through storms of emotional turmoil.

An idealistic manifesto is not ignorant of excruciating realities.

It is not a naive and fanciful expression of lofty intangibles.

It is a gritty, gutsy proclamation grounded in the recognition of disturbing imperfection, yet driven by the certain knowledge that progression is possible through choice.

As William James wrote,

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

A manifesto is one’s planted flag declaring:

I choose to rise above my past, my pain, my limiting beliefs.

I choose to drag myself from the canvas every time I’m knocked down.

I choose to never give up striving for the ideal.

I choose to live from the space between stimulus and response.

I choose to live from a vision of joy, rather than wounds from the past.

I choose to be governed by love rather than pain.

I choose to be a victor, not a victim.

The Family Manifesto — and the whole idea of Life Manifestos — almost died.

But it lives.

Because I made a choice.

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