When I think of dying, I think of Henry David Thoreau who famously said that he went to the woods to avoid dying without living.
He had a pessimistic assessment of how many other people managed to avoid that fate:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
I’ve known my share of quiet desperation. I’ve been lonely, excluded, dejected, even depressed a few times. How about you?
I was even fired once, quietly but spectacularly.
Like Langston Hughes says in “Mother to Son,”
Well son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Ironically, unwelcome forced change became the ticket that ushered me into the world I was secretly longing for: the right time, place, and reason to tell the story of my childhood and to publish my first book. For the last three years I have explored all three, and I feel clarity emerging from the chaos of change.
I’ve now written that book. On September 19, 7 p.m. I will be standing in front of the Lititz Mennonite Church, the place where I started, book in hand, and tell that dear audience why I wrote Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.
There’s a long answer to that question you’ll have to be in Lititz to find out. But here’s a short one: I wrote this book to find out what gifts I myself had been given in childhood so that I can pass them along to others.
Back to Thoreau:
The book itself describes these gifts in every chapter.
I begin with the dreams of my parents and then, following Thoreau above, “advance confidently” in the direction of my own dreams.
The result? Joy!
Like the mother in Langston Hughes’ poem,
For I’se still goin’, honey,I’se still climbin’,
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair, but it has been my stairway to heaven. I’ve tried to front the “essential facts of life” by writing a memoir. I would love if a few sentences in this book live after I’m gone. But what I really want is to inspire one other person to break out of quiet desperation and to “live the life” he or she “has imagined.”
My New Beginning today: approve pp. 156-158, the very last act of proofreading!
What’s your New Beginning? How are you advancing in the direction of your dreams?