This is an admittedly bizarre title choice for someone who once bawled her head off when taken on a fishing trip as a child (early indication of a future vegetarian). But the words came to me the other day when I realized that – as much as I like to think I’m a “go with the flow” kind of gal – I’m still prone to giving in to the temptation to put my dreams in a headlock and wrestle them down the path I’m oh-so-sure is the best one.
Of course, the wiser part of me knows this is a recipe for disaster (or at least disappointment). But sometimes the id screams like a toddler being forcibly removed from the toy aisle and the hubris of me insisting on doing things my way prevails.
So…what to say about why I haven’t posted in a few months? I could point to everything from family drama that ended with a relative in rehab to the standard-issue workload that comes with adulting. Maybe throw in toiling over a final edit on my novel and some good old-fashioned writer’s block to make it an airtight case.
But while all of the above events may be true, they’re still excuses. And if I championed them, I’d be creating an absurd rationale for why I’m not doing the one thing that makes me feel the most alive: putting words on a page.
So, why do we go silent on our life’s passions?
There is nothing new that I can say about grieving. And others have spoken and written about it in much more profound ways than I ever could.
But we’ve all been there before. And I’m there now.
“We are all peers in the human experience.” – Maru Iabichela
We’re all made of the same basic building blocks. We all eat, drink, work, sleep…lather, rinse, repeat every 24 hours. The Constitution even confirms that we’re all created equal.
But somehow, we just don’t get that “all” includes us, too.
“No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a strange, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham
You may not be redefining the world of dance like Martha did (my own musically-induced gyrations have prompted people to ask if they should call 911), but there is a bit of habitual dissatisfaction in all of us.
And I think it’s awesome.
But I didn’t always feel that way.
When I was a kid, I thought being famous had to be the best job in the world: everyone taking your picture, clamoring for your autograph and hanging on your every word. Never a moment of insecurity or doubt about your self-worth or inherent awesomeness.
I remember my last night as a grade-schooler, unable to sleep as I pondered my upcoming first day on the big bad junior high campus. Instead of the same familiar pack of munchkins I’d been running with since kindergarten, I’d now be forced to meet an entire legion of new students.
And I was terrified.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– Christopher Robin to Winnie The Pooh
As I kid, I loved the tales of a potbellied bear and his posse that included a tiny pig, a grumpy donkey and a boy who adored him. His innocence made me smile, and I could definitely relate to his insatiable sweet tooth (honey for him, anything chocolate for me).
But as an adult, I realize that the stories aren’t just cute, they are full of wisdom and comfort…two things I could certainly use right now.
Which is why I’m writing this today.
The other night, my husband asked me, “If you could choose one moment in your life to live over again, what would it be?”
As one scenario after another flooded my mind, I decided further clarification was in order. So, I countered with, “Do you mean ‘relive’ as in it was so awesome I want to experience it again? Or as in, ‘Man, I screwed that up, and I wish I could go back and fix it?’”
He smiled and said, “Which one did you jump to first?”
And my response surprised me.
Whether or not you’re concerned that the White House is in danger of turning into a satellite campus for the Kremlin, there is one thing we can all (hopefully) agree to be thankful for: we live in a country where we possess the freedom of expression.
Think about that. I mean, really let it sink in.
If you have a book, film, artistic work or even a simple bumper sticker-sized message to share with the world, no one will physically prevent you from putting it out there.
You can proclaim your faith – or lack thereof – and you won’t be thrown in prison.
You can champion a cause that sears your soul. At the top of your lungs, and in broad daylight.
So, in honor of this privilege, it’s time to realize that “just add water” is only a good directive for condensed soup and Chia Pets. Not so much when it comes to speaking your personal truth.
In this age of people sharing everything from their lunchtime burger to their family vacations on social media, it would seem that none of us have a problem being seen.
But being looked at isn’t the same as being truly seen.
It’s not a big risk to share a meme or join in the latest Facebook argument over whether we just swore in the savior of the free world or a misogynistic Cheeto. But revealing your whole, true self to the world (and no, half-naked selfies don’t count)…that’s an entirely different animal.
And it’s easier said than done. I know, because I wasn’t willing to do it for a very long time.
Like, oh…for about four decades.