Last night, I swear to God, I dreamed up an entire book.
I wrote a novel in my half-sleep, the movie version of which was to star Jude Law, and maybe Rachel McAdams as me, though Lena Dunham would probably be a more suitable fit.
And for two minutes I laid in bed wondering if I should get up from under my body-warmed blanket, to write it all down.
The plot twists. The love interests. The mystery.
I knew I'd never remember it all in the morning.
But I chose to stay in my comfort zone anyways.
And now the world may never have that "brilliant" story.
I woke up this morning feeling like I'd let a really good story slip through my hands.
And in the waning afternoon light the irony of it all is not lost on me.
I woke up sad about losing a story.
Yet I'm daily letting my life slip by while I do the very same thing.
I would rather stay in my comfort zone than do just about anything.
Than to write something real, and therefore scary.
Than to go out and try to make a new friend.
Than to do something so simple as signing up for a Michael's craft class. (I'd hate to see me in a war zone, or trying to kill a spider. Geez.)
Don't get me started on having to admit when I’m copping out of what I really want to say, instead of bravely, boldly, speaking my mind.
I hate that!
Yet I refuse to change.
And I'm just wondering, at what point does this all end?
At what point do I demand that fear loosen its grip on my life?
At what point do I call enough “enough,” and take control of my life back?
And divine talk aside, I do have control over my own life.
Not the weather. Not whether I'll get a flat tire or not.
Not my height. Not my hip size.
But I do choose how I face each day, whether with dread or delight.
And in those little choices my life is built. It's based on the decisions I've made, and the decisions I've refused to make.
Sadly a good portion has been shaped by the latter.
I choose whether I remain in my PJ’s ‘til 4 p.m. or if I shower straight away and begin the day like a champ.
And I choose to swing through McDonald's or make a sensible sandwich at home instead.
And so my story goes...
I get to choose.
And yet I choose not to.
So many days I feel like life is something happening to me, because I fail to show up, or to decide what I want to do with my days.
I see the choices as opportunities to fail, instead of as an incredible, fleeting gift.
"A ladder to the stars."
Before I lose the evangelicals, and I don't mean that as a derogatory term (hi Dad!), I do believe a Creator exists. One that desires for us to live lives that please Him.
But I also believe that Creator wired us with free will, which was meant to be a gift not a burden.
I believe He understood something we lose sight of all the time, that Love is only true and real if it’s a choice.
And so He gave us one, no strings attached.
He gave us a daily, often painful choice, to put our own needs aside for the sake of another.
I believe that Creator expressed pretty clearly, through a story of His own - one of sacrifice and world reshaping - that what pleases Him most is justice and mercy, grace and love.
I believe He wanted people to care for each other, especially those in the most need.
And that He, Himself, met people where they were at.
I believe He exemplified crazy, society-baffling compassion for the marginalized, and unheard of disdain for the religious powers who’d been keeping them down.
I also believe it’s taken me 29 11/12 years to realize I am not playing the part of a beggar on the side of the road of America’s streets, but I am the rich, privileged person, who chooses on a nearly daily basis to stay safely in my comfort zone, rather than following the lead of Someone I claim to walk with.
I have sat on my incredible riches, my talents so to speak, instead of sowing them into all the things that really matter, none of which are purchased through a cable bill, or accomplished with mere internet action.
Rather than finding ways to share my gifts, I have let the fear of failing, or offending, stop me dead in my tracks.
I have squandered so much time (and so many resources) trying to outrun and distract others from the plain and simple fact that I am a deeply flawed individual, who happens to be unreasonably loved.
And all this time all I really wanted to be doing, was the same thing I really felt like I should be doing, which was sharing how crazy amazing that Love is. How freely it was given, and how freely it was meant to be shared.
I stopped writing for a long time out of fear.
What if people think I'm silly, or foolish, or a biggot, or a heretic?
I took on other projects, maybe mostly as distraction from the call to "write hard and clear about all that hurts." (Great advice from Hemingway, or, you know, Pinterest.)
Mostly, though, I just got tired of feeling like all I had to say was the same thing over and over.
So I stopped writing, and even stopped talking to most of my friends and family members.
I was getting on my own nerves, and the only way I knew to fix it was to stop.
I hated the sound of my own voice, both literally and metaphorically.
So I shut up.
Grace and failure, and the exhausting nature of perfectionism.
Doubt and struggle and perspective changes.
I felt like a broken record it was time to stop playing.
Who wants to hear that over and over?!
I sure didn't.
But after last night’s wake up call, I’m reminded of something far more brilliant people than I acknowledged long ago.
That what writing is really about, isn’t growing a following, or impressing others with one’s intellect and grasp of grammar.
It’s not about creating something Tweet-able, or groundbreaking.
It's not about anything new at all.
It’s about making sense of one’s own experiences, in light of one important constant:
The Love that binds all our winding stories together.
Love that makes sense of a way crazy, chaotic (and sometimes scary) world.
You’re not good enough.
You have nothing to offer.
You’re a fool.
You’re a mess.
You should just shut up.
You should just give up.
These are the accusations that haunt a creator who’s not creating.
I believe these are the questions that haunt us all when we shut down instead of opening up.
When I'm not releasing my words, my thoughts, I fail to reveal the lies for what they really are. They eat me alive from the inside out, and cause me to cower even more than I normally would.
They accumulate, like clutter, which grows like a parasite, 'til it's impossible to sift the rubbish from the treasure... 'Til it becomes one homogeneous, out-of-control mess.
And eventually I use those same awful lies to bring other people down, lest they escape the sad fate I've found myself in.
Misery loves company, and lies do too.
So I shoot them like arrows, meant to keep others from winning their own battles.
I try to keep them from daring to claw out from their own despair, their own questions, their own doubts. Because I don't want to be left alone.
Because I have lost sight of hope that there is an option other than this self-made prison, I want to hold other people in theirs.
Dramatic much? Yes.
But true nonetheless.
A long long time ago, now, I had a talk with some friends about how easy this Facebook-ed world we live in makes it to envy others.
When you’re flooded with other people’s happiness it’s easy to start feeling worse about your own state, especially if that state is sad, or alone.
When you're bombarded with other people's happiness, real or contrived, it makes it all-too-easy to believe that happiness, itself, is some kind of limited commodity.
Something that must be fought for, instead of something that is simply found.
Get it now, before it sells out.
Find it now, on Fab.com.
Don’t miss your chance. This won’t be restocked later.
Grab your happiness while the getting’s good.
And if every one one of your “friends” is beating you to it, there won't be any left for you.
It’s you or them.
That's the mentality this creates.
And that single phrase – you or them – brings me back ‘round to that Creator guy.
And how the story He told was one of inclusion, not exclusion, though I think that gets lost in our American English Translation.
His story was about an invitation to all. Not those selected, or who opted in for the email blast, or who fit a target demographic, or hadn't already blown their last dollar or chance.
Happiness, the real kind, not the kind sold on Colgate commercials, was meant to be shared.
It was meant to get bigger and better the more it was given away.
And the only real happiness I’ve ever known (besides coffee) has been Love. Plain and simple.
Excruciating and Exquisite.
Laughter. Shared tears.
Life, as a unit. As a team.
As a "we."
Burdens halved and joys doubled.
That's Love, right? In one listed out nutshell.
I, for one, have gotten so used to the counterfeit, that it's hard for me to fully accept, and share the Love that doesn't rust or expire, get stolen or decay.
But I should would like to get back there. To remembering the taste of what truly matters, instead of the saccharine-y crap that's being peddled by the world/web.
For those of you who weren't around in the early 2000's, I started this blog many years ago.
At the time it was a story about a single girl just starting to recover from her first real heartache, trying to settle into life post-college, to navigate her way through a confusing, scary world.
And while my mailing address might have changed several times since then, the blog address too, and even my last name is new, the mission remains the same.
To tell my own story, not because you need it, but because I need to get it out of my head.
Lest it keep me up at night, from yearning to be told. To be made sense of. To be wrestled with.
To be let out into the world.
I can’t promise what I write here will be interesting, or earth-shattering, or even coherent some days.
I can’t set up a schedule and guarantee I’ll stick to it. (In fact, the past tells me I absolutely will not.)
All I can say is that this will be my story, and I will tell it true.
And I'll leave the sifting up to you.
What's golden and what's garbage, you can decide for yourself.
I choose to write 'cause I need to, for me.
And I realized that today, after spending most of the afternoon alone with my lies.
Thanks to those of you willing to go along on this journey with me, and for those of you much braver in sharing your stories with us all.
The company, and the encouragement, is far more valuable than I can tell you.
*And Jude Law, if you’re reading this, have your agent call me.