It hit me today while I was running that I don’t tell stories here nearly as much as I used to and I miss it, and I can see that you must miss it because the comments dwindle when I post sporadically and tersely with just a few scraps of observation from my day. And the truth is, your comments mean the world to me: not their quantity so much as their depth. I love what you have to say. I love how you see your worlds, and how you see mine. And the truth is, my readers here have saved my life many times over, and I mean that with no hyperbole at all.
When I started this blog six years ago it was my only creative outlet: I’d just move to a new town with my husband and six month old Bean, and I had no friends living within five hundred miles of me, not to mention no friends anywhere with children. This blog was my lifeline. I laugh now when I tell people, but I truly got at least 90% of all my parenting advice for raising Bean from the people who shared their lives through their blogs, and who shared my life by commenting here.
And gradually, I found my voice here, through telling stories about my kids, my muddy dirt roads, my heart full of wanderlust, my hunger for doing more and seeing more and being more; because you were listening.
I dreamed the idea for my book here; I shared the news of Sprout’s arrival here; I spilled the messiness and heartache of tenuous times here and man, I am so, so grateful for the inspiration, insight, and pure awesome that you bring to my life.
All this to say: I want to share more here, not less. I want to keep having this space be a place that I go to find my center: to find my words and hear your words. And it’s sort of slipped off the map a little in the past months because holy hell, grad school is no small thing.
I’m in the midst of cool project for school this week; an interactive documentary, to be exact. (Though if you ask me what an interactive documentary is, I’ll have to say wait and see—because I haven’t found a single example of what it is I’m trying to do. It requires action script code, and video editing, and interviewing, and graphic design and interaction design and animation. See?)
At it’s core is a series of video interviews with local artists who are all utterly brilliant, and intimidating, and awesome. They’re the kind of people I want as mentors. The kind of artists who have made it big time in their fields. The kind of artists who make me proud and terrified to call myself an artist.
I can’t wait to share it, but it I’ve still got a couple of weeks of work; and a lot of learning to do.
Right now it’s pushing me beyond every single boundary I have.
I’m interviewing people I never met; I’m designing a browser interface that accounts for emergent interactions; I’m learning to make lines do what I want them to do in Illustrator. This all but petrifies me.
But mostly the interviewing people I haven’t met part.
I’m good once I get to know someone, but those first awkward moments are a heat flash away from pure agony. Add to that the fact that I’m shooting video (a thing I am learning to do on the fly, as I go) and oh lord. Deep breaths.
Today I interviewed Maura Campbell who is fierce and fiery and passionate about her craft. My batteries died in my HD Flip just before the end; and then further embarrassment ensued because I couldn’t figure out how to open the damn thing. (Thank god for smart phones. I had the how-to googled in under a minute.)
Really. This happened.
And even though I was mortified, I was thrilled, because here’s the thing: I knew, even in the moment, that the battery malfunction I was having was just another way of falling down.
And learning to fall is necessary in learning to fly, or leap, or risk anything. Because it’s the people fall and recover that become rockstars and superheroes. It’s the ones who fall and get up time and again that discover how to make their dreams fly.
And if there’s one thing that has really gelled for me this winter it’s been this:
Falling is ok. Failing is part of the process. Doing both with frightening frequency means I’m pushing beyond my comfort zones, and that I’m learning. Big time.
Also that bravery doesn’t come from waiting for the perfect opportunity or knowing everything in advance, or getting it right the first time. Bravery comes from googling how the hell to open your video camera and replace batteries in the middle of an interview, and then recovering composure.
And at the end of the interview when we were standing in her paper strewn office, and she was telling me about how writing is requires being utterly selfish with one’s time, I asked her the question I always want to ask every creative person that I come into contact with: How do you balance this with the rest of your life? How do you do this and children?
And in not so few words her answer was this: you do the only thing that you can. When her kids were small, she wrote, fervently, in the center of the living room as her kids, four of them, twirled around her. When they were bigger, she retreated to her bedroom, leaving them with the warning: interrupt only with blood, or fire.
And that’s what makes her brilliant.
It has nothing to do with balance, with being a ‘perfect’ mother, or with having the right time and the right place to begin. It has to do simply with persisting. . With daring to dive every day towards what you love to do most. Always.
And it was such an awesome interview because I got to be reminded of that.