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write on wednesday, surprises on wednesday, and …

October 18, 2008

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. ~Seneca

Becca posed a wonderful question on Write on Wednesday this week.  What could you accomplish, if you only dared?  Or if you knew you could not fail?

by Arthur Rackman
by Arthur Rackman

That question opens Pandora’s second box; the one that was full of good will, good luck, and good things.  I have to go back to a quote I refer to often.  My father said to me, when I was very young, “You can do anything you want.”  I believed him.  If I were another person, I might have said, “yeah right, whatever.”  Who knows?  The stars were aligned just right while my psyche was forming, and I have pursued life with this as my mantra, knowing that not everyone realizes it is true for him or her, too.  Of course, along with being sure you can do anything you want, hard work must accompany the desire.  Things don’t just happen by themselves.

One day I decided I wanted to be a published author, to be able to sit all day, no one else’s clock to punch, and write and write and write.  Although writing has always been a part of my life, I began writing in a different way.  I pursued my writing “career” with a lot of hard work.  And I continue to do that – no publication date within view – but I am still working towards that goal.

It is the second question, “Or if you knew you could not fail?” that does not make sense to me.  In no way should a goal be defined by success or failure; a goal is about the way there.  It is all about the trip, or my second favorite mantra: “live in the moment.”  I think about all of the things I have learned since I started on my quest to be “a real writer.”   I researched for my first manuscript and learned a myriad of interesting things about Vikings, sagas, ancient manuscripts, and I made a new friend in Iceland.  This is just a very tiny example of what I gained from that quest.  I am so wealthy from the trip – and in a small corner of my brain the hope of getting this manuscript published still exists.  There is always hope!

My greatest aspiration is to give this gift to my students, and especially to my children – to realize that they, too, can do anything they want.

The most wonderful thing I have found on my writing journey is the gift of friendship.  I have met so many wonderful people in this particular writing arena; like minded people I would never have met had I not decided to take this trip.  This trove was compounded by a tangible gift this week.

As I drove past my house on the way to the garage Wednesday afternoon, I saw a brown box on my front porch.  The mail man drops our post and runs because the ferocious beast on the other side of the door scares the bejabbers out of him.

I retrieved the box and and set it on my desk while I decompressed from a day of work. Changed my clothes, drank a glass of ice water, checked the phone messages, pet the dog.  Then I opened the box and set the contents on my desk and admired it.

I took the pup for a walk.  The sun was out, the leaves were crunchy, Terra was happy, bouncing and trotting through the long grass.  Sitting on my desk was a present to open.

When I got home, I unwrapped the gift.  The bird on the front was apropos for a couple reasons.  It is fall, spooky time, and there is nothing spookier than a raven.  Edgar Allen Poe and all that good stuff.  It was also appropriate, because of the contents of the package.

My very own copy of Bird by Bird, a gift from Carl.  I have been raving about this book for quite a while, bemoaning that I had an overdue copy from the library, but could only read a page at a time, to savor and soak it up.  And the package had other goodies in it, too.  The ever spooky eyeball bubbles, gravestone erasers, a Halloween bookmark, and a beautiful card by  Anne-Julie Aubry.  What a treat.  I sat down immediately and moved all of my stickies from the library book to my personal book.  Then I read two pages.  Ahhhhhhhhh.  Life is good.  Thanks Carl!

I received another gift this past week; a totally different form of a gift.  I was assigned a new intern three weeks ago.  She was teaching in a very difficult situation, her supervisor said she was failing, her mentor did not have a background in the area she was teaching; they did not find a meeting point.   When the supervisor performed her surprise observation this past Thursday, the intern got an A+.  I was so pleased for her, and happy for myself.  We had connected, she was open to my ideas, she worked hard, and it became a happily ever after!

The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton

I remind myself of this every day, and find that if I follow this advice, the results are never disappointing.

I took Friday afternoon off to help my youngest get ready for Homecoming.  What a great week!


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11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2008 2:32 am

    Your posts always lift my spirits! It’s so wonderful to hear from one who dared to follow a dream and is enjoying the journey so much.

  2. October 19, 2008 7:39 am

    There’s nothing like a well timed gift. I’m so glad Carl sent you your much longed for book, with extra goodies as well. I’m so glad that you had a good week!

  3. October 19, 2008 8:07 am

    Thanks, Becca. I figure I may as well enjoy the journey!
    You are another gift I have discovered in this community. The great effort you put into Write on Wednesday always gets me thinking, and somehow your questions always lead me to realize how fortunate I am. I also enjoy reading your Bookstack (http://ravenousreader.wordpress.com/), and I did enjoy Becca’s Byline (http://beccasbyline.wordpress.com/) though I can understand why you might have to take a break from the responsibility of so much writing (or at least this vehicle for writing). So I am grateful you are an internet friend, Becca!

  4. October 19, 2008 8:19 am

    Hi Bellezza, thanks for stopping and commenting. I loved your Italian blog head, but the mushrooms are very nice, too. I am always attracted to fungus when I walk in the forest!

  5. October 20, 2008 12:39 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. I believe you can do whatever you want – with the emphasis on the doing. It doesn’t mean you can be whatever you want – a tennis pro, a published author, a rock star, but having a passion and loving the way you spend your hours is one of the greatest human pleasures, I think. Accepting who you are within the frame of the doing is the important thing, not trying always to be something or someone else. Oh and I love the picture you post – so exquisite.

    Hmmmmm, a rock star…… that would be fun, wouldn’t it? Just kidding – I think I’m too old, though I am younger than Mick Jagger!! You are absolutely right, however – the emphasis has to be on the doing. “The trip” versus the goal is where the pleasure is, for sure. I have often found the goal changes along the way, too, which can be very exciting.
    The picture is by Arthur Rackham. I love his fairy pictures, too. I had the title under the print, but it somehow disappeared.

  6. October 20, 2008 10:50 pm

    This is the most extraordinary post. It moves me in so many ways — I heard the same thing about being able to do anything, and basically I believe it. But you are doing it with your writing. It is exciting, filled with energy and joy and determination.

    I love the idea that when you give so much, as you do in your posts and more, something good comes back. I know things “come back” in many ways, but I am thrilled you have your own copy of Bird by Bird, so imaginatively wrapped. What joy I “heard” in these words, echoes by the photos. I’m smiling.

    Thank you, Jeanie. I am so pleased you were moved!
    The “come back” thing is so absolutely true. When I was in the classroom, I tried to convince my students of this, but they weren’t sure about it. They expected an immediate payback if they did the right thing, and if it didn’t happen, then “what goes around comes around” couldn’t possibly be true. Of course, unable to understand this, they were very far from understanding the simple pleasure gained in doing the right thing, or giving, or whatever. I just have to hope they get it someday!
    I have gained so much from writing here, reading other blogs, trading comments – it really has been a great writing and communication venue for me. Thanks for being part of it!

  7. October 22, 2008 7:24 am

    Another post that makes my heart beat faster and my mind whirl. Well done you! I have always interpreted the ‘if you couldn’t fail’ portion of that idea to be more indicative of the idea of pain avoidance as opposed to some measuring of ‘success’ against ‘failure’. While we all have experienced moments in our lives of pain that we have overcome, I think there is a natural fear in us all, that must be overcome, that the pain of trying something and not experiencing the success that we personally expected may be the kind of pain that is too difficult to move past. Again, that is my own personal thoughts on that statement and may not be reflective of others’ ideas.

    I do firmly believe in the old maxim that the only way to truly fail is never to try in the first place. I also believe that success comes in the form of your definition and can be and is as rewarding as the world’s idea of success if not more so. It is all about courage when it comes right down to it. Courage and the willingness to not allow ones own fears and hang-ups to become the excuses that keep them from stepping out and trying.

    I am so glad you enjoyed your gift and that it arrived safe and sound. I am also pleased that you savored the moment. I love finding special ways to wrap gifts and knowing that it sat there just a bit longer in the same state that it left my hands makes me smile. I hope you mark and mark and mark again your copy.

    Hi Carl,
    “the pain of trying something and not experiencing the success that we personally expected may be the kind of pain that is too difficult to move past”

    The first thought that crossed my mind when I read this was game playing. The idea of competition and winning vs. losing. Maybe the reason I am not afraid to try new and challenging things is my non-interest in the competition of the game. As you said, we share the opinion that success is in the trying. I don’t look at it as having courage, either. I just think, “why not? What can you lose except some time?” The only thing I would be afraid to try is something that would put me in physical danger. Bungee jumping would not be for me, but any other type of challenge is fair game in my world. My rush/reward comes from trying.

    (and I have been highlighting like crazy!!)

  8. October 25, 2008 5:17 am

    My daddy used to tell me that I could do anything. Lovely gift to give a daughter, I think.
    And beautiful packaging for that wonderful Anne Lamott book!
    Homecoming. Such fun!!

    Hi Pamela. You are so right – what a “lovely gift to give a daughter.” I was lucky enough to grow up watching Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs, and reading Ms. Magazine and Gloria Steinem during the “second wave” of the women’s rights movement. My dear grandmother was too far ahead of her time – she desperately wanted to go to college, but her bellicose and chauvinistic father chose a husband for her and absolutely forbid her to continue her education. She stood up to him enough to choose my grandfather instead of the fifty year old farmer she was destined to wed, but college was a poor third place loser.
    So not only my father (and mother) but my grandmother were expecting me to be a well educated “person.” I was very lucky.
    And homecoming. It ain’t what it used to be! My daughter goes to an art school and they don’t even have a football team, so I don’t know what they were coming-home to. She had fun, however, so I didn’t tell her that “back in the day” each class built a float in a secret place so it didn’t get egged by another class, and there was a parade with the floats and the high school marching band, the football game was the most important part of the event, and we danced to records in the decorated gym. Oh well.

  9. October 30, 2008 7:44 am

    I love the photo of the white fairytale pumpkin and enjoy the beauty of your blog.

    Hi Princess. It is one of those pumpkins that have a bluish-green cast. I just love them! Thanks for visiting.

Trackbacks

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