suddenly, pins and needles
i got brave yesterday. very brave. and that’s not exactly my natural landscape. i tend to be one of those nesty girls, clinging to the familiar, the known rhythms of day after day. i find comfort there, where for adventure i go deeper and deeper. but not beyond my borders so much. not easily anyway. not without butterflies in my belly. and, suddenly, pins and needles all over.
i was minding my business, typing away. pinning one sentence to the next, feeling it all tumbling from a deep-down place. i was writing about boxing up my firstborn’s bookshelf, considering how deeply the books on his shelf took me back in time, made me remember. i was writing about how achingly hard it was to slide those well-worn pages, those pages rubbed raw, into the hollows of moving boxes, lined up like hungry soldiers awaiting chow.
and, then, i started to think that maybe — just maybe — i should do what writers do: send it off to a place i’ve long dreamed of finding my words. send it off to an Editor, The Editor. before i could convince myself otherwise, i made myself do it. i “thumb-slammed,” in the vernacular of a writer friend of mine who is all about being brave, about sending words to the desks of faraway editors, and doing it with gusto, with thumb slammed to the keyboard, as you hover your cursor over the “send”whutchamahoojie, and suddenly your words, they are soaring, and your courage is slithering out of the drawer, getting a sudden and unexpected workout. a bit of a jolt, certainly.
so, while i wait to hear what’s happening next (The Editor very kindly — and unexpectedly — wrote me back last night to say she was passing along my words to the someone who edits these things), i can’t pin my words up on the clothesline, can’t even leave a few wisps here at the table.
but i can — and i am — thinking about courage. about stepping outside what feels safe, about nudging our tired old selves into the unfamiliar, about stepping up to the plate, as long as we’re here on this planet, and testing our muscles, our dreams, and those rare few bits about us that won’t tiptoe into the universe, become a part of the mix, if we don’t get about the business of finding our courage and shoving them out there.
perhaps it’s all this reading i’ve been reading of late. words from my dear friend, now gone. as i read her passages of hopes and dreams, i’d be a fool for not figuring out that the sharpest edge of the writing — from the perspective of now, after her death — is that those dreams, those hopes, they’ve all evaporated, crumbled away. all the fears and sadness that held her back, it’s gone now. maybe that’s the reason she asked me to be the caretaker of her creativity. maybe she knew there were lessons there that i needed to learn. maybe she wanted me to finally slice and dice the fears, the doubts, that make me think i’m not enough. not good enough to be brave. to stand at the doorway of life, with my few offerings cupped in my hands, to even inquire: “would you like to see this? would you mind if i showed you a thought or two i’ve happened to pull from my soul?”
perhaps i hear the drumbeat of time. perhaps it’s sinking deeper and deeper into my soul: these are the days you’re alive, these are the hours when your hopes and dreams have breath. and the only thing holding you back is your fear. how hard will it be, really, to hear someone say, No? is that any harder than the echo chamber inside your own head, the one that over and over and over cuts you down to size, infinitesimal, insignificant size?
if you believe in the God of the Beautiful, if you believe that each and every one of us had the Beautiful breathed into us once upon our beginning, then it follows — there’s no room, really, for arguing otherwise — that the Beautiful is rumbling around deep inside, just looking for the nearest exit, so it can be birthed, so it can come tumbling wholly and wildly — or quietly and breathtakingly — to life.
all we need some days is a hot blast of courage. and the willingness to live with the pins and needles that are certain to follow.
what holds you back? how wild are your hopes and your dreams? where have you found courage?
p.s. i promise to let you know what happens in the take-a-chance department, and i promise to some day slide the “boxing-up-the-bookshelf” essay here.
Courage isn’t only about charging into battle like Joan of Arc. Sometimes it’s about getting out of bed each day. Thanks for the reminder, friend.
dear darling, it was worth it to type even a word to find you, my beloved longtime courage-breather, here this afternoon. sometimes the biggest courages come in the littlest packages. sending love. xoxoxo and deep thanks. for everything, really.
Sweet friend … finding courage has become a daily task of late. Feeling the lack and finding the well. Your writing reminds me that God is my strength and song. Needed this tonight. Thank you. I love you dearly. xox
sweet angel, we all need reminders to be brave. as i think across the arc of friendships, it’s the ones who understand how hard it is to muster courage, to muscle on in the face of a canyon of doubts, those are the ones my heart leans on most supremely. sending love, always. xoxo
Reading your post out loud to my husband has become a part of our togetherness. Thank you for putting your soul on the page reminding us to always do what we are afraid to do. Very excited for you Bam. Your words are a gift!
dear ellen, oh dear ellen……the notion that the words i type are read any way but silently, the notion that breath and voice are put to them, that’s a blessing that washes me over in nearly-stunned silence. i love the thought that words weave you and your husband together, even more closely than you already must be. i tend to read newspapers the same way — much to the chagrin of the boys who inhabit my house, i suspect. when i stumble on a great quote or a glorious or hilarious line, i just have to speak up and read aloud.
and by the way, any chair folk looking for a beautiful blog, please check out ellen’s, white oak cottage. found here: https://whiteoakcottagedotcom.wordpress.com/about/
Here I am finally … on the desktop from whence I can comment. SO PROUD OF YOU! And the pincushion! Priceless! I hope the editor to whom you sent knows the treasure s/he holds and does the right thing! It seems many of us at the table these days are struggling just to face the day much less muster courage to do something new and brave. Good for you, for yourself, and thanks for inspiring us, too. Love you lots.
dear darling, as i wrote just a bit above: “as i think across the arc of friendships, it’s the ones who understand how hard it is to muster courage, to muscle on in the face of a canyon of doubts, those are the ones my heart leans on most supremely.” that would be you, so deeply, my “you-got-this” girl! xoxoxox
I feel like i’ve learned more about you in the past 15 months than the previous 17 years, when I was first introduced to the Mahany Kamin family. Cancer does that to you. Opens you up in ways you didn’t know you needed. It makes me sad to read you’ve struggled so with courage, to be brave. I would have not guessed that about you. I believe you are much braver than you give yourself credit for. I’m sure of it in fact. I’m glad to read you are pushing past your comfort zone. For me the push is always exhilarating and yet totally scary in the pit of your stomach too.
cancer does do that, doesn’t it? when we’re blessed anyway. when we decide the only way forward is to lay the cards on the table, and join forces. i think any time life strips away all the outer layers, exposing what’s within — because that’s where the life-giving comes — we find out what makes us all tick, and we discover the truths. and we carry each other over the rough patches and through the dark passages, and we pray the light will come. that’s the journey i’ve taken with so many people i love who’ve walked with cancer or some other damn struggle. it’s all pared down to the beautiful, and the essential, and all the commotion gets cleared out of the way. because who has time or energy for distraction?
as for courage, i’ve tumbled into a few things — grad school, the tribune — without much hesitation because it just felt like the next place to put my foot down. but i’ve always always deep down trembled. and maybe because i love the power of words, and maybe because i set a truly high bar, there are more than a few places where doubt has held me back. not thinking i’m worthy. and the saddest thing i know is to find out after the fact that you’d short-sold yourself all along. and maybe, now, i can’t bear that thought even more than the fact that it scares me. anyway, i am going to ponder for a good long while your notion that the push is exhilarating. it is. and maybe if i focus on that, instead of the trembles, i’ll find more courage…..
xoxox thank you for leaving me much to think about. xoxo
You, my sweet, happen to be one of my favorite writers. Ever. And I believe in you to my core. You are worthy. Better than this, you are loved. Tonight before I fall asleep, I’m wishing on a twinkling star for you. May your best and truest dreams become reality. ✨
bless your beautiful starry-heavenly heart. if you wished it, i’m believing in it. i too happened to be staring at the stars last night. i was in a small crowd, and walked away to look up and out and beyond. i found my peace there. anchored in the deep deep deep. xoxox