"Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives."
This is a quote from the National Novel Writing month website, which you should totes check out (www.nanowrimo.org). Yes, I am participating in this exhilarating stupidity. Starting November 1, I along with other absolutely crazy, yet passionately devoted writers across the country will embark on a month long writing marathon. 50,000 words in 30 days. Can I do it? I have always wanted to write a book, so why not let this be my first shot at it? I know there are tons of people who toss the idea of writing a published novel out into the air every day. OK and less than 1% actually do it. However, I have come to realize that writing is a part of me, just like a toe or a kneecap or a nose hair. My drawers at my room at home are filled with so many journals I have kept growing up. Little bits and pieces of stories and poems and lyrics are like dust bunnies cluttering the cracks of corners of anywhere I have ever lived. I am constantly conjuring up characters, plots, phrases mentally describing my surroundings. Words just fascinate me. I love writing. There. I said it. And now it is time to do something about this passion, despite every insane obstacle that will stand in my way. And what better place to do it then in the wonderfully upside down, unique city of New Orleans!! So please support me in this lofty endeavor!
Lately I have been drawn to the joy children bring into my life. I got to babysit three adorable children last weekend, am continuing to teach children's Sunday School each week at both my respective churches, am tutoring a wonderful little girl named Leslie twice a week, and continually play with the children that come to the homeless ministry. As taxing as the little ones can be on our nerves and patience, I find that we can learn so much from children if we simply watch and listen. They look at the world with such fresh intensity, such untouched awe. They are frighteningly honest (sometimes make you rethink your fashion choices.) with their questions. I think as we grow older we tend to stop our questioning, simply accept things, and just throw in the towel as cynical pessimists. We become tortoises slugging through life, weighted down by our constraining beliefs we have grown too accustomed to. But, I think it is worthwhile to learn from all the curious young ones out there that we should never stop questioning, never stop doubting, and never fully give up searching. Because it is only through this ongoing, often times frustrating process that we allow ourselves to be renewed again and again. Each baby step, each slight inch forward, brings us closer to truth after truth. These truths will transform the world that we are a part of into something chaotic at times but beautiful always.
Children have pure joy in their hearts that infectiously radiates to their surroundings. Being around little kids pries open this closed valve in my heart, perhaps a part of me that I hold back in many "normal" situations. I love pushing my imagination to the farthest edge of possibility, inventing whole other worlds to scamper around inside, doing things that are silly and ridiculous but just FUN. Kids put their whole heart into everything they do, and we could benefit from doing the same. I feel like our daily routines have become spiders that catch us like flies, tangling us in their stifling web of structure and rules and limitations. We are buried under deadlines and to-do lists, putting on this stoic front to the world so no one knows we are stretched like rubber bands ready to snap. We forget that our hearts desperately need to let loose, to stretch their cramped legs once a while. To pretend to be an evil vampire or a princess fairy, to make cupcakes with ingredients that don't follow a recipe, to dance to a song about dinosaurs with complete abandon, to be enamored and completely happy by one simple toy. To run around, to get dirty, messy, tainted without worry of what consequences will happen or what judgments will be made as a result of our actions. To just be alive. We survive, "make it through" every day, but we forget to live.
And just one smile, one laugh from a child, and my heart melts a little around the edges, like a piece of paper touching a flame. Sure they drive you crazy...when then they howl and scream or say something rude or stubbornly refuse to listen to you. But at the end of the day, I am thankful for every moment, good or bad, I get to spend playing with or talking to kids. Because I am reminded about what life can be like if you let yourself not only push through it, but taste it, reach out at it, experience it fully.
After all these life lessons have been shot out at you readers from my mind cannon, I would like you to remember the most important one that glows among the coals. Sometimes, it is enough just to be. The power of presence is underestimated in a society that begs and pleads and stresses us to do do do day in and day out. At the end of the day, when our actions seem fruitless, we are called by God...to simply be. Our presence is a mere miracle in itself, and there are moments we must let this understanding speak for itself.