As far as I can tell, all the responses I have gotten to the news that I quit my job to write a book fall into two categories: the excited for me crowd and the raised eyebrow, “okaaaay,” secretly-think-I’m-crazy people.
Amongst the people who have expressed excitement over what I am doing, there have been a few who were awed by the news as well as some who have called me brave.
The first time I heard it, I just thought, Really? But I would rather be called “brave” than “stupid” so I let it go.
But it happened again. And again. A few more times and it was stuck in my head.
Do these people know me? I am no risk taker, I thought. I don’t think I’ve really shocked anyone with my decision, but the idea that it took courage was puzzling to me. My response was to shake my head and move on. The words I wanted to say — to convince them that it wasn’t at all what they thought — wouldn’t come. Because I hadn’t worked it out for myself yet.
On one of my last days in the office, a coworker was talking to me about my plans for the summer. She had somehow missed my news over the previous weeks. She sat, mouth agape, as I told her what I was doing. After answering a few of her questions, her mouth crept into a tiny grin that grew into a wide smile.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Being you. Being brave. Following your dream.” She proceeded to tell me her dream — a detailed image of a cabin in the woods and the life she would have in it.
“You’ve helped me see my cabin in the woods again.”
Not that I needed any more confirmation at that point, but her words kind of did it for me. My decision was primarily about me and being true to the things that I want from life, but if my choices could have that kind of impact on another person…if they could be inspired to remember what they want…how could I fail at this?
On June 2, 2012 I picked up my favorite journal, a well-loved Moleskine, and wrote these words:
I wish I was brave. People have been telling me that I am lately, since I am leaving my job.
I don’t believe it is bravery. For me, there was no other choice. Somehow, I have gotten back on this path. This was where I was meant to be from the beginning.
You are there. You have always been there. I am sorry it’s taken me so long to come home to you.
All I am doing is returning to the thing I have loved since I was a little girl…to the desires of my heart that have been there for years. This is the only thing I know to do.
Is it brave to be honest with yourself?
To acknowledge your hopes for the future, even if they are incongruous with the present?
To dig up the best version of yourself and revive it?
To return to your first love?
Seven years and one day before that entry, there was this. Maybe it won’t make much sense out of context. But the pieces fit.
Perhaps in a past life they died together and were buried under miles of sea. And now they’re being discovered. Bones…bodies all tangled up and together and keeping the other warm. But a hand reaches out now and it knows, hesitates in touching that flesh it has longed for. For the first time in centuries, eyes meet and stop, breathing. You’ve been there. Forever.