There was a time when a white blank page was a close friend.
We went everywhere together–that blank page and me–inspiration and life just around each corner. The process of documenting live and chaotic events with typed words was thrilling to me.
There was a time when my ukulele and I wandered down barren dirt paths or sat on curbs in pit-stop cities. Together we rhymed frustrations, heartache, and joy. My voice rubber-banded to new highs and lows, and singing became therapy.
But now is a time where my voice is exhausted. I sing along to the radio as I drive down bumpy dirt roads (construction in this city is endless), but I don’t like the sound of it. It’s strained. My rhymes are repetitive, boring. Singing reminds me of what once was.
And sadly, same with writing. I’ve taken to hating the idea of it, though it once was the very thing that kept my insides aligned and inspired. It taunts me now, my disorganized explosion of written dreams, the first draft of my book collecting dust.
Yet oddly enough, I’ve never felt more myself. Perhaps grounded is the right word. Because living in the desert of waiting forces you to face yourself, demons and all. You’ve camped in empty and boring terrain, and there’s no one around to fight the battles for you.
You have to do it yourself: respond to the alarm, rise before the sun, and build yourself one day at a time.
Maybe you’re really good at this, but I’m not: the art of patience. Of waiting.
I so badly want the day to come where I can write “Dear Diary, today I finally hit puberty and actually look my age.” Or “Dear Diary, today was the day I stumbled upon my dream job that also pays and I no longer have to feel confused about the way I’m wired and what I’m good at because it exists beyond my daydreams.” (disclaimer: I don’t actually pen “Dear Diary” entries, but for the sake of charm, I figured it was worth writing in this post.)
But those days will never come. Not in that way at least.
A day will come when I finally look old enough to stand my ground against high schoolers, but it’ll be a slow process. The wrinkles will set in, one day at a time, at first without my notice. And a day will come when I am smack in the middle of fulfillment, but it’ll be a slow process.
Waiting feels so slow. It’s painful. We sit in hopeful anticipation for what’s next, but we don’t sit in the moment of right now. Because the right now doesn’t provide answers. But it leads us to some.
A few days ago, I sat in a coffee shop with a dear woman I’ve looked up to since I knew her at 16. I talked at lightning speed, so many years and experiences of life to share. My hopes and dreams and confusion spilled all over the table and onto the floor. To me, it was a mess, because to me, I feel like a mess.
She looked at me and said, “People are many layers. There’s so much to us, and we’re always going through something.”
We looked over at the baristas as the object lesson, my eyes quickly scanning their busy and happy faces. I wondered what they were insecure about that day. Or whether or not they were content in that coffee shop and if they thought they’d be somewhere else at this point in life. Or if they’d been able to fulfill their dreams.
We all want something. We’re all hopeful for at least one thing right now, though the levels of hope may vary for each of us. We just want to get to that place, find that fulfillment.
But life calls us to wait. Life calls us to commit to the process, not necessarily the arrival.
And besides, all those times we have arrived or achieved, we often look back at what we’ve walked through to get there and practically almost miss it. Because in hindsight, we’re able to recognize the importance of committing to the process.
I desperately wish it didn’t take hindsight to see such things. But I suppose the unknown of the desert is what keeps us going.
And I desperately wish that the desert didn’t strip me of my joys like writing and singing. Often the desert sucks creativity. There aren’t many colorful stories to tell in the slow, long days of waiting.
But waiting also keeps us grounded, in a weird way. It reminds us that we’re fallible, that sometimes we think we’re capable of more than our blistered hands allow. That, in the desert, there are small and simple pieces of ourselves that are beautiful too.
It’s ok to not move mountains today. It’s ok to only take a couple of steps in the hot sand because it’s all you can handle. It’s ok to have a strained voice or a strong dislike for writing in today’s phase of life.
We are many layers, and we go through many seasons. Don’t worry, your strength will come back. Your feet will run miles again. Hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to write colorful stories and sing new rhymes.