Every night I go to the beach. Not this beach, but one like it.
I go before sunset– just as the heat stops searing it's fingerprints into skin. Once the humidity ceases to strangle human lungs. I take my journal — always as if by accident — just as I leave my hotel room.
The blue-striped journal and I have a staring contest for three hours on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
I never lose.
"I'll write tomorrow," I say.
It's a meager consolation prize, but it consoles all the same.
Tomorrow yields a similar outcome, and the day after that, and after that, and…
Something tells me that I'm running out of tomorrows, how quickly or slowly only God knows. And yet, I don't write. I scroll and overdose on Twitter. I text the besties. I fret. I imagine a shiny future with a best-selling novel that appears by magic and not through the hard slog of writing. When I'm really in avoidance mode, I wash dishes. I do everything except the thing that I've been called to do.
Short answer: Fear
You can't lose if you refuse to play, right? If I never actually commit to this writing thing, if i never actually write the book, then my potential for being good –maybe even great– remains unscathed. People will still read my inconsistent blogging, scattered posts, and tell me "you should write a book one day." I will humbly agree and continue to excuse my non-writing with life problems, moving, dude problems and general drama. Because as long as "one day" remains indeterminately "tomorrow," I'll never fail.
This is what I think about all of those times — those long hours at the beach–when I consistently resist doing this thing that I so desperately want to do.
Tonight, as I was looking at the ships coming into harbor, that song from Moana came to mind:
See the light as it shines on the sea? It's blinding
But no one knows, how deep it goes
And it seems like it's calling out to me, so come find me
And let me know
What's beyond that line, will I cross that line?
I haven't even seen that movie, but I recognize myself and my struggle to pursue my calling in that song. There's this eternal longing that no amount of fear, or avoidance, or flat-out resistance can stamp out. There's a dream that God dreamed for me long before I began to dream it for myself. Only I don't know exactly how it goes.
What I do know comes in fits and starts, sputtering fragments of only partly-remembered things. A brief melody that I'm always singing off-key. I can not for all the stars in heaven figure out the base line to this thing, or why this verse happens here at this moment, or what comes next, but I cannot stop repeating the ephemeral lyrics that I know. Because, in the words of Ann Patchett, it's a "dream that is burning me down like a house." A dream from which I cannot escape.
This dream is calling me. No doubt like your very own dream is calling you. You probably stopped picking up at some point, devised your own game of chicken to avoid. Created your own excuses and justifications for not doing it. Tried to forget about the dream that resurfaces time and unlikely time again. What shall we do with the fires inside that won't burn out?
My guess is: feed them. Add oxygen and more logs. Give in to its demands. Feed it the sacrifices — the time and work– that it craves. Picking up your calling might be the way to deal with such an unquenchable fire.
See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls mee
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
How far I'll go