Life is not American Idol
Life is not American Idol
I am having what Oprah calls a full-circle moment. I’m sitting in a certain coffeehouse near-ish to my home. I was writing about something else and it wasn’t going well. Then they put Jeffrey Gaines on the sound system. (Do you know him? You should…) It occurred to me that it was RIGHT HERE, one table away from where I’m sitting right now, when I saw Jeffrey Gaines perform for the first time several years ago. It’s not a big room and Jeffrey is a big, passionate guy. It was one of those shows were time and space sort of bend and the air gets thick with magic.
At the time, I was a new-ish mom. I didn’t get out much. As I sat there listening to these powerful songs about longing and truth and being who you really are, it occurred to me — more like hit me like an anvil over the head — that this life I was living didn’t quite fit me. I was stifled and lonely. I loved being a mom but I also wanted to be so much more. I needed to speak. I needed to find my voice. I really, really needed to start writing again — and not about OSHA violations.
And I found that what I was waiting for for so long was something that I had to give myself. I wanted permission. I wanted someone to say to me, “You have great potential. You were born to do this. You MUST write. The world needs it.” But things rarely happen like that in life. There’s no American Idol for most of us. We just do what we do — put in the work that we really want to do anyway. We put in the work whether anyone notices or not — because it brings joy, because it fulfills a need, because it makes us feel whole and allows us to appreciate life a little more.
And now I sit here in the same place, listening to the same music four or five years later. I have not written the Great American Novel. But I have two great chapters that I’m really proud of that I think could someday germinate into something lovely. I’m not a columnist for a national publication. But I have this little blog here that a bunch of you read and I got a nice little bit of recognition for it recently. I’m not a size whatever. But my pants are loose and I’m learning how to be kind to my body. I’m not 22 and I’m glad about that because I’m a lot smarter now. I’m not meeting my husband at the door with lingerie on but we’re talking and being honest about what we need. My kids are cute and healthy and smart and funny. I feel like I’m on the path I’m supposed to be on even if it is extremely rocky sometimes.
For right now I feel like I’m pointed in the right direction. I’m not sure where I’m going to end up. But that’s OK. I have this step right here in front of me and when it’s time to take the next step, the direction will be clear.
So, little blogmuffins, what I have learned that’s worth sharing here? I’ve learned that you have to be honest. And that there are sometimes many layers to honesty and it takes time for them all to come up. But speaking that first truth, even if it’s hard and not very pretty, will start the ball rolling. I’ve learned that to live a good life, you have to be authentic. You can’t be who other people “need” you to be — you have to be who you are. You can’t wait for someone to annoint you or validate you, you have to take those first steps forward. And I’ve learned that I am the only person inside my crazy, overactive brain. I better make sure that I’m good company.
Someone somewhere once said that an acorn can only be an oak tree. So don’t pretend to be another kind of tree if you’re not.
And with that, I will sign off, my dear, sweet bloggy pals. I wish you all an authentic day.
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