Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What is this Sacrifice-Thing?

In case you missed what I was getting at, by sitting in my frozen fallow field, and in case I missed it (which is more than entirely likely) it is this: My writing vocation cannot come without grave sacrifice. Geez. This is not what I want to hear from my unconscious mind. I want my ease and effortless now! I didn't know that this is what "sacrifice" meant. Can I give my calling back now? No? Shoot.

This is what it is like: My daughter wants extra money for a field trip, and I have to say, "No, sorry, honeybee. Mommy is a writer."  My son wants some new food treat at the store as I am frugally buying groceries, and I have to say, "No, sorry, little peach. Mommy is a writer." I would like to buy a new winter coat, and I have to say to myself, "Get real. There is no extra money while you are developing this writing. No, you can't buy a bottle of wine. No, there is no vacation yet. No, don't expect little goose-bump treats and surprises while you are laboring in the field of writing." It is either, "No," or it is giving up on my calling. It is agonizing to understand this fully now, late in the game, and to look at the big picture of my life and to comprehend that nothing will change until I fully accept this bill.

So when someone excitedly announces to the world that they've been "called" to do something, I am not likely to be the one who cheerfully high fives them. I'm the sober one in the corner, thinking, "uh oh." I know it is possible that had I answered this call, made these sacrifices when I was much younger and less obligated to be responsible that it might have felt differently. All I can say, is that I was doing the best I could under the circumstances, and this is the first moment in my life when I felt that, "Now, it is possible to focus on that calling." That may be the way it is happening for you, or maybe your calling is buoyed by a different kind of angel-winged support. At any rate, I do believe that old saying that "nothing good comes without a sacrifice." It is just unpredictable what will be demanded of us.

I know that I am lucky beyond measure to find myself in a supportive relationship. Even my children will back down from their age-appropriate demands when I say, "I'm writing." I have friends who are equally good writers working nearly full-time to support themselves while they write. They may not have children at home, but they have bills to pay. The sacrifice is always there.

There are no guarantees. I may write into this void until my dying days, but it is somehow a requirement of my soul. Freeing myself from the fantasy, that I can serve everyone else’s needs and desires instead of writing, or still writing, is terrible. I have spent the better part of a year second-guessing this lesson that’s been poking around my heart. While I have made easy money before in my life, it was strange and dehumanizing to me. This experience, even sitting in the frozen, fallow field of my dreams is very human feeling, and, for even this truth alone, I am grateful for the sacrifice and my good fortune to follow it to its end. I hope by setting this example that my children will have the grace to follow their dreams early and ruthlessly, but I know that every person has her own journey on the spiral staircase. I hope that my orchard of peaches, my writings, will one day bring pleasure to those who stumble upon them. I feel like these are not fantasies. I hope I’m right.

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