A distinct sadness comes over me when I find myself in a book store. A wave of emotion washes over me to be completely honest… a mix of nostalgia, melancholy, wistfulness, admiration, inspiration, loneliness, love and sadness. I could go into why, though I imagine none of it would be very surprising. I could talk about how it probably stems from being disappointed in myself for not having written anything, when for so much of my life it was the one thing I was sure about doing. I could say that I believed it was my destiny to write, and now I find myself so far from that goal, that when I am reminded of it, it makes me sad. I could talk about all of these things, but I won’t….
I look at all these beautiful books, breathe in the unique scent of new print and paper…and imagine that one of the authors can feel my sadness, and reaches out through an invisible plane, telling me “don’t be sad! You can do this! I will help you…I can keep in touch and remind you that you can do this, and you’ll see!” I stay in this lovely thought for a long moment, imagining what it would feel like to have someone who could do such a selfless and warm thing for another human being. I don’t let, for that long moment, real world thoughts creep in and ruin it; thoughts about how no one does anything for nothing, and no one can help you but yourself, and so on. But then…there they are, aren’t they? Sneaky little fuckers.
I shift my weight from one foot to the other, and get firm with myself. I breathe a little deeper and hold the breath in while the thought speaks clearly and without static: “you don’t need anyone else’s help. You were raised to be tough, and the truth is that no one will come along and take you by the hand and lead you to your goal. You need to stop dreaming about this helpful, inspirational guiding force and build some structure for yourself, to take steps and make this a reality. The more time you spend dreaming about this support, the less time you spend on working – and work is what it takes to do this. All of these people worked at it…not a single one of them got a call one day from someone who thought they were awesome and said, ‘I know you can write something incredible. Here, take this money and go for it, take your time. I’ll call you tomorrow to remind you how special you are.’ So, dry those watery eyes and go take this moment with you, using it as fuel to get yourself moving. And move you can: you are healthy and able bodied, with a clear mind and heart that wants.”
As I walk away from all of the books, I miss them immediately. Their scent grows faint and the whispers from their pages grow silent. I want to return – go back and live in all of their worlds for a few more pages, admire a few more photographs and feel the spine of one last hardcover. I hold the images of the various authors in my mind for just a few more seconds: portraits of ordinary people who succeeded in, simply, making something beautiful. I imagine talking to them, asking them to tell me their story, and how real those stories would be.
Now they are all behind me, far from where I can see or smell or feel them, and what remains is the clarity of the thought: you have to do something to know. You have to try. It is the only way. You build a house by placing one stone on top of another, by attaching one piece of wood to another. Piece by piece. The only thing left is to figure out how to hold onto the belief and the focus. Believe and do.
Faith and action.