Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I hiked ten miles down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to visit Havasu Falls. This is an incredibly vast and remote stretch of desert; a place people have died after taking the wrong turn. Needless to say, we made sure to keep our eyes open for the trail markers to lead us down the right path.
Lately, my 85 year-old father has been asking me what I’m going to do when I “grow up”. Apparently, married with 3 kids, I have yet to arrive. I used to think I had to know what was going to be “next”, but having children has humbled me. I now recognize that our plans, however grand, don’t always work out and many times, that’s ok. If only you would allow it to be so and go with the flow.
See lately, I’ve been reading the signposts in my life. And what’s so fascinating to me is all of the ones I now realize I missed along the way.
Surely, you can relate. That feeling when you know you are on the right or wrong path? It just feels right. Or, it just feels wrong. Just like the trail, awareness is key.
Like many, I felt lost after college. I read books like What Color is Your Parachute to try and figure out what I was supposed to do for a living. Looking back, that book was so unnecessary. If only I had asked myself, what did I like to do as a child?
The answer is, I wrote. Ever since I could.
I have journals spanning more than twenty years. I’ve always written but, as silly as this may sound, I’ve never considered myself a “writer”.
It all boils down to confidence. What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said? Why does what I write matter? What if it isn’t good enough? By not labeling myself a “writer” I don’t hold myself to any standards but by doing so, I’ve been missing the signposts.
This is what I am supposed to be doing. This feels right.
The moment I read the email that I was going to be published, I immediately thought of an inscription in a book the mother of an old boyfriend gave me 15 years ago. I still have it and ran to my bookshelf to read it.
“Just a little something to add wings to your dreams of being an author.” I saved this book because this gift meant that someone believed that I could actually write a book one day, even when I didn’t. She saw me, even when I couldn’t.
So I found her number and texted her the photos above along with the photo of the email announcing plans to publish my piece. It was one of the most validating moments of my life.
Halfway down our trek, Emmett and I nearly missed one of the trail markers. We glanced at each other, grateful we’d taken the time to look for it, for it was not easily visible. About a mile before we arrived at our destination, we could hear the power of the waterfall. We yearned to see it, touch it and taste it. I started to cry when I felt the mist hit my face. After hiking 6 hours in the hot, unrelenting desert, we’d arrived. We’d made all the right turns and it was like something out of a fairytale. Here, in the midst of the barren landscape, sat Caribbean blue waters, beckoning us to come take a swim.
Where are the signposts in your life? Are you paying attention? What do you want to do when you grow up?
I can now say, I’ve seen mine and now I know, I’m a writer.