One of the things I wanted to be when I was growing up was an actress. Well, first it was comedian, then actress, and then chef. It seems my abilities to prioritize in life came at an early age because I can’t think of anything else I seek more now than laughter, a memorable flick, or the satisfaction of a home cooked meal.
As I got older, obviously these things changed. My young eyes in the beginning years illuminated the magic of the world around me and now my vision of cumulating years turned that glitter into blurry gray blobs of what adults like to call “reality.” My reality of making people laugh would be just everyday small talk jokes. My acting abilities would be tested out in an acting class that failed to memorize monologues. My dream of cooking would be just experiments in the kitchen for my adoring boyfriend and me. None of this is harrowing or depressing. These are the things I enjoy outside of a career. All of these events happened to help me become who I am, a writer.
However, when it comes to writing, I experience the anxiety of this so-called “reality” everyday when I get up and do everything but write. Untold stories that are waiting to be born haunt me like ghosts. They dance around my entertainment center as I turn on Netflix in hopes of finding a new series to get into. They cast shadows over my working hands as I piece elaborate ingredients I’ll never use again together for that intricate recipe I found on Pinterest. They wail as I intentionally run the vacuum back and forth over the carpet of my apartment floor, drowning their screams into an angry sea of loud humming.
When you’re scared, you run from things. I run from writing.
And then sometimes you run straight into Life. He’ll kindly pick up your distractions for you that fell and scattered when you two collided, politely accept your apology and slide to the left so you can continue your marathon of running from your dreams. This morning after my personal collision with Life, when I began my path back to running, I noticed something else in my shuffled pile. Life had handed me a quote:
“Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.” – William Arthur Ward
As I read the quote, I started to check off the beginnings of each of these sentences. And I know you, the reader of this piece, can as well. But when I read the second halves of each sentence, I was at a humbling halt. Participating, helping, practicing, being kind, forgetting, working. How often do I follow up belonging with participating, believing with practicing, forgiving with forgetting, dreaming with working?
The magic of the world never disappeared and it never will. My vision may have blurred it but that doesn’t make it nonexistent. The more we experience failure, the tougher self-critic we become. That “reality” we inherit as adults isn’t a color blinding doom, it’s the filter we see until we follow up the wants of our hearts with the imperative efforts that come with it.