I found myself staring at my computer screen, rather shocked at what I had written. What had started out as a simple story about my little girl’s foray into the world with her Pa and how it carried over into our family’s life on the trail had turned, unbidden, into both a moment of parental vision for my children, and a moment of painful realization that I was no longer putting forth any real effort toward keeping that road. How had it turned such a sharp corner? How was it that I hadn’t known what was in there? And how could I possibly expect her to know how to navigate a road that I was neglecting myself?
It was then that I remembered why I write. It is not, in the words of a t-shirt that nearly ended up under my Christmas tree, so that my head doesn’t explode. It is not so that I have something to do with all of those words that bubble up within me. It is because writing helps me get it. It helps me get things that most of the time I don’t even know I need to get.
To grasp how badly I wanted my girl to be willing and strong enough to walk that road was a surprise of the pleasant variety. It gave my parenting-for-the-future mind something to move toward. To face that somewhere in the details and demands of life I had forgotten the worth of taking that road for myself was a shock of the sort that made me wonder why I have such difficulty remembering what I think I already know.
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – C Day Lewis
I understand. If I want her to recognize the road and take it, then I surely must want that for myself. I wouldn’t wish on her something that I wouldn’t take myself, would I? So off I go, attempting to remember what I already know, trying to recognize the road, be discerning enough to know when to take it, and develop the strength to live with the fallout. Then, when I discover that the world doesn’t quite fit with me nor me with it, I will declare along with my daughter, “I think this is the road less traveled.”
Out of the heart the mouth speaks. (Or perhaps, the pen scrawls or the keyboard clicks.)
Listen. What is your heart saying?