I used to be an open book, held out for the world to read.

Then people scribbled all over the pages. They wrecked the story I was creating, the art I was living.

So I began to hold my book closely, closed, clutching it to my chest. Protected.

Eventually, I began to feel lonely. What is the point of a story if no one reads it? How interesting is art if no one contributes to it but the artist?

My freshman year of high school, a classmate, a known prankster, took a notebook of mine and scribbled on the first twelve pages; he wasn’t being malicious, just being a freshman boy. So, I started taking my notes on page thirteen.

Over the course of the semester, my dear friend, who is a wonderful artist, drew an picture out of every scribble. They were creative, inspired, and delightful.

I still have that notebook thirty years later. And it still makes me smile when I look through it.

That is how I am going to live my story.

I will no longer hold my book close to me; I will dare to open it up to the world again and revisit the freedom, the innocence, the exuberance of youth.

There will be hurt, that is guaranteed, but I will take each scribble, whether it is malicious or unintential, and see what shapes I can find within it, discover what can created from it, and make my own unique art out of it.

And when I doubt myself, I’ll pull out my old freshman notebook and smile, remembering something inspired and delightful can be created from every scribble.

What We’ve Lost & What We Keep

Something is missing. It has been neglected, lost, forgotten.

This something was so important to us as children, so important to our life’s purpose, so undeniably a part of our story that we thought we would never forget it, never stop wanting it. Yet in order for us to be productive, responsible members of society it had to be pushed away, pushed down, pushed aside, from the main focus of life to simple fantasy.

Didn’t it?

And it’s been so long since we’ve thought about that something, that dream, that it’s hard to remember it now. With each passing moment of the daily routine it’s more difficult to feel the joy of wanting it.

What was it again?

It tugs at our sleeves like a child wanting attention, a child who still remembers, who still lives in the place where all things are possible. A child who still believes dreams are attainable.

What was it again?

Someplace inside of us is empty.

Some people have this realization and throw everything out the window–divorcing their spouses, quitting their jobs, cutting ties with friends and leaving town at a run. For them, it’s the only way they can find what they are missing; they keep nothing of the lives they’ve built, even that which is good. They must start from scratch. Many don’t know what they’re running towards, only what they are running from–the emptiness within them. Others know what they are running toward–a life more authentic to their true self. They run with the wind at their backs, leaving nothing behind except footsteps in the sand.

But, what if we don’t want to give up the life we’ve created?  Can we run with the wind at our backs toward everything we have ever wanted, while still loving and appreciating the precious things we want to keep?

I believe we can.

We don’t have to leave our lives behind to find the part of us that was undeniable, the part that burned and refused to take no for an answer. Instead, we can add those youthful dreams back into our lives, one by one, softly, with love and tender care, or fiercely, with passion and sheer life-force. We can slow down and respectfully decline to do things which do not serve our life’s purpose. We can cut down those mundane routines, allowing dust to build a little higher on the furniture, allowing items to remain unchecked on our lists. Perhaps we can quit making lists all together. We can let go of insecurities that have held us back.

We can promise to honor those dreams, making them a priority, allowing the joy of wanting them to again fill our hearts until it is overspilling with the exuberance of youth.

And eventually, we will remember.

New seed
is faithful.
It roots deepest
in the places
that are
most empty.
    – C.P. Estes