Once this year, while Josh and I shared our everlasting house struggles, a friend mentioned that she thought it was a helpful thing for me to run a blog about home renovation in the midst of real life: Josh works full time and goes to grad school; I work more than full time, generally with upwards of 10 sources of income in a month; we lived with my parents – God bless them; I’ve been sick for eight weeks while [supposed to be] training for a half marathon; we got a PUPPY, because we’re crazy.
Oh, and in the meantime, we’ve had this construction zone/home to keep from setting itself on fire.
The only problem with our friend’s observation is that, instead of blogging about real life, because I’ve been overwhelmed by real life, I haven’t been blogging. As someone who’s often intensely stuck inside my own head (sometimes to my detriment), I’ve often thought it better to be quiet – and read obsessively – and wait to speak. Even if it’s just tearing out a ceiling, it’s hard to find the words when my mind is so full.
When I do decide just to put it out there, I hold my breath and send it off and shut the laptop and hide. Maybe everyone does this. Creating is scary. It’s being a child and daring to show the concoction of leaves and string and glue you’ve got pressed between your hands – and waiting to hear everyone tell you how much your efforts are worth – and concluding that maybe it would have been better just to hide it in a box.
Can you relate?
I know I felt this last Christmas, lurking there but not quite as crippling. Now there’s this tension. I’m the worst entrepreneur in the world, but I’m self-employed, so I read a lot about focusing on your mission and shutting out the naysayers – the real life ones and the ones inside your head. The result is that now I can articulate what I’m supposed to do but I can’t figure out how to do it.
In the midst of this, there’s this haunting realization that while we’ve been planning, feeling interrupted by real life, real life has been our only life. As Annie Dillard said once, because she’s a genius, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
We can all stare with our mouths hanging open at people who seem like constant springs of insight, always having something profound to add, never having to take long sabbaticals from saying things out loud. They just put it out there. But for most of us, this cycle is – and probably should be, right? – part of life. Learn, speak, learn, speak. My biggest fear with the learning part is that everything I send into the world might be some watered down version of something someone smarter said once. I’m probably part-Bonhoeffer, part-Brene Brown. I’m sure I haven’t had an original thought in fifteen years.
We’re all in this tension in our own ways – wholly ourselves, but still bearing the impact of our environment, histories, teachers. Waiting until everything’s perfect to move is a good recipe for letting life happen to you. (Just say no to letting life happen.)
This year I’m so thankful for sounding-board friends who let me wrestle with hard things this year (mistreatment of women at the hands of religious leaders – are you serious) and ask correspondingly hard questions (holy crap is God a chauvinist?). Together we’ll find and forge the right paths, not because someone else is propelling us down them, but because we know, at last, what’s right and why we should be here. I know it’s a bit cliche to reminisce this last week of the year (maybe it wouldn’t be so necessary if we slowed down to take stock of our lives more often), but I do hope you get a chance to breathe and open yourself up again to wonder and bigger dreams and ask yourself where you’re headed.
And I thank you for your grace and patience, for staying here and being all right with the quiet. It’s such a gift to do something you love, and I love this.
Have a wonderful holiday season, and may your new year be full of bravery and growth and all the best kinds of adventure.