I’ve been trying to finish Sula for weeks. It’s been with me in cars and on trains and planes in New York and Tennessee and still, I’m only halfway through.
Reading these days takes greater mental effort. It’s become a practice of forcing myself to put technology away and sit in silence. Or, almost silence. In New York it sounds like birds and trains and cars and planes passing. Horns honking. People talking as they walk by. Odd, how they become such soothing sounds when curled up with a good book in the middle of the day. I’ve taken to burning palo santo on a makeshift incense tray—a rose gold candle cover atop a growing pile of The New Yorker. It’s on loan from the library and due back today. And while I can finish it, I don’t want to rush the process. The journey of digesting the characters and nuances, rereading sentences and chapters. I don’t want to miss a thing.
I’m trying to do the same with my life these days, being gentle with myself when all my plans fall to the wayside. When the people you thought would be there aren’t. When things that should have changed, don’t.
I am moving toward that quiet space, inching toward myself. I’m close but not quite there yet and still, I’m relishing the journey.
Most of the stories we hear are looking back. We come, we see, we conquer. But as long as we’re here the story is ongoing. I am in the thick of it. The hard part. The working toward something you can’t fully see or grasp but know it’s there. The part where you want to give up but don’t, where you are suddenly grateful for the burdens that force you to press on, to keep going.
Keep going. That is the key to journeying. In pain? Empty? Afraid? Put one foot in front of the other, for as long as you can and keep going. You will meet the parts of you didn’t know existed on the other side.
Along the way, speak up when you feel the need. Change course or company when it feels right, even if it means you’ll have to go the rest of the way alone. It’s how you find authenticity, how you trust your voice, how you serve others by loving them enough to walk away, by refusing to be a crutch, refusing to be silent. I’m talking to myself.