The Only Courage You Need

October 1, 2016

“To be born is to be chosen.  No one is here by accident.  Each of us was sent here for a special destiny.”

–John O’Donahue

The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.”

–Mignon McLaughlin

On May 11, 2006, I wrote these two quotes n my journal and then filled two pages with frustration that I had allowed 6-9 months to pass without any serious writing.  How could I be so careless with my dream?  So undisciplined and fear-filled?  So caught up in the details of daily life?

At the time, my children were young and we stood on the brink of huge life changes as a family.  Honestly, had I known what the next ten years held, I would have been terrified.   If I had known it would be over ten years until I wrote again, I would have been devastated.  

During the years that followed, my daily life filled with thousands of details – raising my children, moving to NY, opening a Bed and Breakfast, dealing with debilitating depression. Days, weeks and months rolled by and I found little time or energy to follow my life calling to write.  From time to time, my dream would reach out from a dusty corner of my heart and tug at me.  

Remember?  I’m still here.  Come and dance with me.

I pushed these dream voices down.  I had no time for “real” writing and frankly, my heart and mind were in no place to contribute anything helpful to others. All I could do was keep trying to feed my own spirit, gathering small morsels of truth to keep going, capturing my thoughts in a journal every chance I could.  Over those years, I completed almost a dozen journals – stealing moments between chores, writing late into the night, filling pages with raw honesty, heartache and hope.  Keeping a record of how I got from moment to moment.  And always, always feeling like a failure because I wasn’t really writing.

Ten years later and now it’s time to begin “real” writing again.  

I stood with that old journal in my hand and wondered where to begin.  And then my heart leapt with understanding.

Caught up in the daily living of life, we sometimes lose touch with our dreams for years. Dreams buried so deeply that we hardly remember what they were.  Dreams so precious that we feel afraid to admit them even to ourselves.  Dreams that feel foolish because we don’t see how they could possibly come true – especially now that “this” or “that” has happened.

It takes great courage to keep a dream alive – to feed it, nurture it, embrace it, believe in it.  To hold onto it when you feel foolish for even letting it in the room with you.  To dance with an idea when it could be years before anyone else can hear the music.  

Weighed down with life, we don’t feel capable of such great courage.  “Chosen” and “special destiny” feel like pressure.  Like we might miss it and mess it up and die frustrated and unfulfilled.  

If only we knew that we have all the courage we need … the courage just to get from one moment to the next.

This is how we dream … by getting from one moment to the next.  We find the strength to feed ourselves a little.  We give what we have to care for those we love.  We keep doing the next right thing.  We breathe the next prayer in the night.

No matter how deeply the seed is buried, no matter how little we’ve watered or tended it, no matter how choked by the weeds of life’s “safer, more controllable, sensible” demands, our dream keeps growing.  Like the tendrils on a vine, it winds its mysterious way through the moments of our long and lonely years.   Years when we see nothing “real” happening.  Years when we get lost in the details of dishes and carpools and committee meetings.   Years when all we can do is get from one moment to the next and try not to beat ourselves up too much for failing again.

And then, after ten years of feeling lost,  we find ourselves holding the road map in our hands.  In my case, a box of road maps .. almost a dozen.

We were not lost after all.  Everything we need is right here.  The gatherings, the tears, the treasures, the moments, the seeds that will grow into the books I was born to write.

It turns out that I was doing “real” writing all along.  The realest kind.  Nothing has been wasted.

“To be born is to be chosen …”