Last year my husband came home with a sailboat. Well, he came home with the news that he had bought a sailboat, the actual boat he had moored just a 40 minutes drive from our house, in the cove at the bottom of my grandmother’s property in Chester.
My husband took to sailing very quickly, and very quickly I realized that sailing wasn’t going to take to me. White-knuckled, jaw-clenched, I would sit in the boat as it swung and tipped, pretending to be braver than I felt. When my feet finally stepped onto the wooden planks of my grandmother’s dock I would exhale a great sigh of relief. To be on solid ground once again.
Chilled and hungry we would drive home under starry skies. My husband would nearly always pick up an order of Butter Chicken, and I’d make myself a nice little rice bowl — a scoop of basmati topped with a fried egg, sautéed kale, and lots of hot sauce. Coming home was like wrapping yourself in one of grandma’s cozy afghans (I suppose this was often literally the case). After being out on the wild, unpredictable ocean I began to treasure having a place where I felt safe and secure.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert gave a talk on creativity where she tells about her beginnings as a writer. She was receiving rejection letter after rejection letter and wanted to give up but instead she figured out a way to carry on. She told herself this: “I am not going to quit, I am going to go home.” She had grown up on a small family Christmas tree farm in Connecticut, but this isn’t where she intended on going. For her, going home meant returning to the work of writing because writing was her home.
“I loved writing more than I loved my own ego…Your home is anything you love more than yourself,” she says.
She used writing as a way to push through her insecurity, self-doubt, and even her success. When her book Eat, Pray, Love became a New York Times Bestseller she was, once again, flung outside her comfort zone. Writing, once again, became her place of safety. Writing brought her back to solid ground.
Sailing often scared the daylights out of me, but I was able to do it because I knew there would always be home at the end of the adventure. There would be sweat pants, and hot food, and peppermint tea. And stories to tell around the dinner table.
In the words of author Liane Moriarty, “You can jump so much higher when you have somewhere safe to land.”
As I look at my life, and how it has changed and evolved over the past few years, I’m seeing a shift of focus. I still deal with fears and worries and comparisons and self-doubt. I wish I could say I’ve overcome these things, but more often than not I’m still the shy, insecure girl I was in childhood. What is different is that I have found things that I care about more than my fears. I want to love and be loved — this is worth the risk of being hurt or rejected. I want to have joy and bring joy — this is worth the risk of disappointment. I want to pursue faith — this is worth the risk of uncertainty and being wrong. I want to create — this is worth the risk of failure. I want my life to be full of play and rest — this is worth the risk of not having it all together.
I want to live wholeheartedly and passionately. And this desire trumps my fear. Every time.
I am learning that whatever I choose to do, however scary, Love will catch me in the fall. I can dance in the kitchen with my boys, wrap my arms around my husband, speak a kind word to myself, say a prayer of thanks, and when I do these things my worries become beads of water on my back that drip into the river of all the things that no longer matter. I will watch them flow far, far away and then I will get back to the business of living my life with my whole heart.
Maybe this will help you do the same.
I know for sure that loves saves me and that it is here to save us all. – Maya Angelou