For me, writing and living are one and the same.
There’s the story I live and the story I write – the living coming first and the writing weaving it into something that makes sense, and on the best days, means something.
Some days, the writing is hard, coming out messy and fitful, or even worse, not coming out at all. But I’m coming to realize that when the writing is hard, it’s usually because the living is too.
I’m overwhelmed sometimes by my desire for the life that I want to live.
I so badly want to live a life that’s heavy with tangible moments. The kind of life that goes by slowly, each bite savored, each touch felt, each note heard. I want to live the kind of life that’s full of meaning, full of love – the kind of life that makes me want to laugh and cry simultaneously with the deep beauty of the thing.
I want to live the kind of life that reads like an essay about food – thick with description, each moment captured perfectly – the kind of story you don’t have to be there to experience.
I want to live these stories because these are the kinds of stories I love to hear.
It doesn’t always happen, but every once in awhile I read the kind of story that makes me want to weep. Usually it’s not about anything in particular – it’s not the story of a great, heroic moment, or a gigantic life change. The stories that touch me most deeply are the stories of the little things. About the little moment that someone took the time to notice, helping me pay better attention as well – infusing my life with the rich meaning that comes with living intentionally enough to see.
And some days this all seems possible. Some days I’m so present in a conversation or so aware of the smell of the crisp green pepper crunching under my knife, that I can’t help but see the divine nature of every single moment of our lives and I’m so deeply grateful.
The moment is made even better when I can get the words to form just right, capturing what that moment, what that crisp crunch meant to me, and what God did in it.
And then there are moments when this feels impossible.
There are days and weeks and even months that feel like a rushed college lecture, slides whipping on and off the screen too fast to take notes. I race from one moment to the next, my eyes glued to my to-do list, making sure that I don’t forget a single item, but also not taking the time to even notice that I showed up.
I want to write the stories that draw out the meaning in life – highlighting it with all of the pomp and circumstance it deserves, but it’s just not always easy.
When I started my job, my boss told me to read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. He pointed out an essay in particular called Shitty First Drafts.
The premise is simple and the concept, perfection.
Your writing, first time around, really sucks. And that’s ok.
Writing doesn’t need to be good and chances are that right at first, it wont be. But what it needs to be is honest. Our writing needs to tell the truth, the best way we can see it.
Perfection is overrated and unnecessary. The important thing is that we show up, that we sit down at our computer and write – that we stay there especially when it’s uncomfortable.
And I’m learning that this is the same way with life.
Life isn’t perfect- as much as I’ve tried to squeeze and manipulate it to be. It’s not perfect and it’s not shiny and sometimes it comes out in fits and spurts and doesn’t make sense at all.
This weekend felt beyond repair. It was a chaotic stream of things not going my way and immature reactions as I just couldn’t figure out how to go with the flow.
The only thing that was more impossible and frustrating than the world this weekend was me. With fists screwed up into little balls and childish despair in my wake, everything was blown way out of proportion. But I just didn’t care.
I wanted to quit, wanted to flee the scene until I could get everything perfectly right. I wanted to run home, hide away, stay in bed or avoid sunlight until I was sure the pouty child inside of me had left, but I just knew I couldn’t.
Because somewhere beneath my frustration I could see that there was great value in sticking it out – even if all I was surviving was a plain old weekend.
I stayed and fought because a very wise man in my life is teaching me something great. He’s teaching me that the best things don’t require you to be perfect – they just require you to show up and give it your best shot, again and again, especially when it’s uncomfortable.
So these days I’m practicing my writing and I’m practicing my living. I’m wildly uncomfortable at times and some days it all feels impossible, but I’m showing up, again and again.
Because that’s what I want my life to be about – deep love and the best kinds of moments – the moments you really have to work for. I’m doing the hard work of living and writing imperfectly – showing up and telling the truth the best way I know how. Because beneath frustration and imperfection I believe in the goodness of our moments and our lives, especially the kind that take some fighting for.