It can take time for this truth to make itself at home in our hearts. It is a narrow bridge sometimes, a precarious walk, loving ourselves into greater things, bigger dreams.
The thing that no one ever told me—that maybe no one ever told any of us, fellow humans of the ‘90s, readers of Harry Potter who got excited over now-retired technology, or just kindred spirits reading this—is the amount of self determination that is needed to move in the direction of our hearts.
That we will suffer heartbreak, failure, disenchantment, and dismay, but that we can heal.
The amount of uncertainty that we face as we grow is never really discussed, though it lingers at the edges of all the rulebooks and in between sentences delivered by well meaning people telling us to choose that which is predictable, orderly, safe, and easily defined.
Which is all well and good. How different it would feel, though, to learn about cultivating a sense of wonder, too. Or a strong sense of self-love while inevitably meandering into the fray. That creativity is messy, and wonderfully so, and will probably resist our attempts to make it something else.
There are truths that are always present, waiting to be reclaimed, no matter how many times they may have been forgotten.
Sometimes we have to double back. Sometimes shiny things distract us. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we consult our maps, only to realize they are written in a foreign language or are of a different country altogether than the one we are presently in.
Much to my dismay, I didn’t come with an instruction manual or map, and I never quite fit in with the expectations of those around me. I’ve had to piece it together on my own, like everyone does.
At some point, I decided to adopt the philosophy of a wanderer, a flaneur, exploring and observing as life twists and turns—a useful attitude for someone who needs to write.
American poet Anne Sexton wrote, “Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”
It is good advice that has helped me whenever I’ve remembered to follow it.
Stories and poems have, in fact, helped me through some devastating storms, and falling in love with books at a young age has saved me more than a few times. The things that we love matter deeply, is what I am saying.
They love us back through the sensible, responsible, mundane, impossible things and can reveal hidden majesty where we may not have noticed it before.
Who or what would you get out of bed for before the sun rises or dance with long after sunset? What is the song of yourself? What is it that inspires you to make music, celebrate, daydream?
What makes the notion of motivation somewhat obsolete, because the longing in your bones is painted across every landscape you encounter?
These are worthwhile questions.
So whatever it is, that soul thing that is calling you, please do it for you and for the rest of us.
Because it is true. Because it is high up on the list of things that love you in return, that make you smile in the moonlight.
That soul thing that is like a cool glass of water in a desert. Let it beat like an anthem in our secret hearts. Let it be at least as loud as the chorus of outside voices telling us we can’t.
We are storytellers with gifts to share, whatever the medium. We are resilient, and we need your magic.