The deeper I crash headlong into the second half of life; the more I feel my mortality, the more I have to deal with the refutation of the idea I had in the first half of my life that someday I would do something really big that would leave a mark on the world. When you’re in that first half of life, doing something really big and important can always be “someday”. When you get past the hump, so to speak, you start to realize there isn’t a someday; there’s only today.
And then you have to start reconciling that with the slow realization that you’re probably not going to do something or achieve something that has the entire world, or the entire country, or the entire state or the entire city or the entire neighborhood or even your entire household stopping in its tracks to notice. And you start to wonder why you’re writing a book, if it’s not to leave your mark on a hard cold world; to make a dent, to help people get past their past, to help them see that they’re not alone, to show them that God loves us and he’s writing a beautiful story in our lives.
What if writing a book was just for me? What if only a dozen people read it, the people who basically already know my story? Would I be satisfied with that outcome? Or would I feel like I’d failed? Why am I getting up every morning at 4:45am, seven days a week, to write a few hundred words until I have a book? What if my book is just ok? Am I ok with that? Or does it have to be so good that they want to make a movie out of it and Jennifer Lawrence* plays me and Oprah interviews me and cries because she is so inspired by my words? And what if it’s not, then what? Have I failed for the thousandth time to live up to the fantasy I have where I finally do everything right and my father notices and he decides to stay and be my father?
What if you’re never really completely healed of the thorn in your side but now you just know it’s there instead of wondering what the HELL is wrong with you. Now you know what’s wrong with you and God says no, I’m not going to take the thorn out, my darling child, you are going to have to live with it; you’re going to have to live in the tension of wanting to be perfect and so good that the world is amazed with you, and knowing just how imperfect and flawed and sometimes not good enough your efforts are. In other words, I’m always going to care and it’s always going to hurt and I’m always going to have to make the conscious choice to turn to my Papa for comfort. Sometimes I will make the wrong choice, proving my imperfection over and over again. And the temptation, the temptation, to just give up. Mom, I understand why you thought you had to give up and I love you.
So just like that, I’m well into the second half of life figuring out how to live in imperfection, how to be joyful in my tiny sphere of influence, how to love myself and others and just live in the moment, knowing that someday never really comes. Trying to figure out why I am writing. I am ok.
Why are you writing?
*I’m not sure if Jennifer Lawrence would be the right choice to play me. But Reese Witherspoon is already doing Wild so it would just be redundant to have her in my movie.