I’m beginning to realize that I could never be just a writer (note: the word “just” is not used to belittle the noble occupation, but to convey exclusivity). For awhile, though I was confused and disturbed by what it would mean for my original plans (ha, plans… what plans? Wishes is a better word) to do some form of compassion ministry with my life, the unexpected rediscovery of my love for writing seemed to point in the direction of my becoming a professional writer, and I was willing to go along for the ride.
But tonight while flipping through a friend’s photos of the amazing adventures she’s having out in the world with Jesus, my heart yearned to be doing the same, and I knew I could never make a career of writing. Sedentary life, with no risks or adventure, is just not for me. As suited as I feel my abilities are for making a career out of writing… I just can’t say that writing completely fulfills me. Yes, I love it and I could no more stop doing it than stop breathing, but I realized tonight that I should have known all along that it’s just not enough.
When I was interning with Convoy this summer, I think that may have been the happiest I’ve ever been. I have never felt so alive— so excited— in my life, and so in tune with God. But that didn’t seem like the perfect place for me to use the rest of my life either. I want to love the world’s neediest, but the majority of them don’t know my language, which is the best tool I have in my hand. If my heart is for them but my abilities are for the English-speaking world, where does that leave me? I don’t want to be working in an office all day, writing away and making good money and living removed from other people’s needs. But if I were out on the mission field, really being with the hungry and poor and sick, how could I use my writing? It wouldn’t help me communicate with the majority of the people I want to help— it would be like having an ice pick in the desert. It’d be great if I were in the arctic, but in the desert a camel would be much more useful.
I don’t want to do journalism. I took a class in high school and wrote for the paper for a semester, but I hated it— the politics of it and the way it left no room for creativity. To be successful in journalism, it requires either a lack of conscience or great optimism for changing the system— neither of which I have. Furthermore, informative writing doesn’t interest me. I could do it to make a living, or even for an organization I really cared about. But I could never be passionate about it. The whole time I’d be doing it, I would be dreaming of traipsing the world and being the next Mother Teresa or Shane Claiborne (that’s how my mind works— it’s idyllic and grandiose and over-inflated). The only writing I want to do is blogging, journaling, poetry, stories, dramas, and oh yeah— stuff about that God person you’ve heard me talk about numerous times on this blog.
Where do I belong? Where should I live? What am I supposed to do with my life? What is my next step? I thought that it was starting to make sense, but it’s not. It’s just getting more confusing. When it comes to my future, I have to admit that I still have nary a clue.
- Hunt with a bow. (No, it’s not because of Napoleon Dynamite.)
- Design and make clothes.
…I’m not kidding. I really want to do all of these things. I’ve actually wanted to do each of these since I was ten. Since lately it seems that I’m being led back to my roots (i.e. writing and reading), I’m going to explore all of them while I’m there.
Living off of nature has been a great fascination for me ever since I was a kid. The idea of harvesting and making what I need, completely from the produce of the earth, intrigued me. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George as a kid, or Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons when I was older. I’ve read countless field guides to wilderness survival. I’ve walked through Golden Gate Park snacking on plums and blackberries. I’ve eaten huckleberries, gooseberries and strawberries while hiking in Sequoia National Park, and even harvested massive aspen bolete, hen-of-the-woods, and black morel mushrooms (none of which I had the nerve to try). I’ve collected prickly pear cactus fruits, pine nuts, watercress, and what must be pounds of acorns. I’ve transplanted yerba buena mint, wild fennel, and more wild plants into my yard. Eating directly from nature’s hand has been an aspiration of mine pretty much all my life.
There’s such a purity, a rightness, about looking to nature to provide what you need. A self-sufficiency and independence from machines and unnatural things like chemicals and stores to provide what we need for survival. I am not a vegetarian, but I believe that ethical food and green living are things that we should all strive for. I intend to eat meat for the rest of my life, and I think that the least I could do is kill it myself— a creature that has lived without pain and force-feeding— in the most humane way possible and make sure that none of it goes to waste. To really recognize the cost of turning a living thing into food.
(Digression:) I’ve done archery since I was in middle school. (I’m not very good, but it’s something I want to improve at.) I don’t like guns and crossbows and compound bows with sights and three pulleys and broadhead aluminum arrows with three blades, or any of that. There’s something so unnatural about the sound of a gunshot, and implements of metal and plastic in nature. My bow is nothing but an oak English-style longbow and my arrows are just cedar shafts with field points and fletched with feathers. If you haven’t already noticed, I like simplicity. (End of digression.)
Even the clothing thing goes back to that. As a kid, I had no interest in clothes. I wore what my mama gave me. That has since changed (thankfully). My style has changed a lot. But I still love— what’s the word?— oh yeah, simplicity. So I’m thinking, since I find it hard to find anything unembellished enough, it shouldn’t be too hard to learn how to make it myself. (Unless it involves knitting. I still haven’t been able to figure that one out… despite the attempts that have been made to teach me.) Lately I’ve been sewing hand-rolled pocket squares. Of course, there’s a big difference between a pocket square and a coat. Well, start small…
If I could imagine my life ideally, I would travel the world doing whatever it is I will do, and in between trips come home to a house in the middle of the woods to write and garden, forage, fish, and hunt and spend time with my family. The Garden of Eden still exists for me, in the quiet places untouched by civilization and busyness. It’s there in meadow grass, mirrored lakes, trees as far as I can see, deer that don’t know enough about people to fear them, eagles poised in the sky.
I am going to attempt and one day master these, one at a time.
- Being cynical doesn’t make you smart. It just makes you unpleasant.
- Being mean doesn’t make you funny or cool.
- Just because you know stuff doesn’t mean you should say it. (Especially because the majority of the time, no one cares how smart you think you are.)
- Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you can rub it in other people’s faces.
- Nobody ever likes getting anything rubbed in their faces. Besides, it isn’t gracious to do so.
- What’s most important in a conversation is not that you give advice, it’s that you listen and understand.
- Don’t ask how people are doing unless you really care. Otherwise, just say hi.
- Don’t say anything you don’t mean. Insincerity is an insipid and revolting brew.
- If you feel intense emotion about anything, 80% of the time, you shouldn’t say what first comes to mind. It will come back to bite you in uncomfortable places.
- Care more about people than your agenda.
- Don’t think too much of yourself. First, because you’re never the best and second because it stops you from learning.
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.” —Ma, of The Little House on the Prairie series
Yeah, I know I have multiple times. But seriously. I get to read Little House on the Prairie. This job is of God. Reading through the series at this age, I’m picking up on a lot of homespun, pioneer wisdom that I hadn’t noticed there before. I feel inspired to share some. Stay posted for such snippets.