Once upon a time, there was a wildly curious but wildly terrified nineteen year old girl. She realized one day that her curiosity was more wild than her terror, so she decided to throw it away and step full force into her wonder.
She started to make choices that didn’t please anyone but herself. For once. She started to do things that people questioned, and even berated her for, because they weren’t what she was “supposed” to do or be. She was even called “selfish” just for choosing to do what she really wanted to do. It wasn’t like she was doing anything illegal or cruel. Just stuff she really wondered about. And wanted to learn from and fasten to her heart. And even things that she longed to become. Oh well.
She decided then and there that she would allow herself to be wildly misunderstood. Because she started to see that life was going to be heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time, and if she didn’t make choices that served her, then she’d never make it through in any way that felt true. And THAT was more scary than anything she’d ever imagined.
So one by one…choice by choice, she went. Sometimes she found herself very much alone because of it, and yes, misunderstood. But there were glorious gifts along the way: in people, places, moments of pure joy. And every so often, she even felt…special. Not in the ways she was supposed to be special. But just…special. Alone in it. But she was not sure if she liked that part.
So she started filling up pages and pages of blank books. She was never without her blank books—sometimes just simple pamphlets she picked up, and sometimes hand-made, leather-bound books. Always blank though. Never lined. She’d had enough of the restrictions and requirements of lines. She needed her thoughts and her words to be big and loopy and unabashed.
It was the beginning of her freedom.
And yes, it came with a cost. She knew it would. But what was the alternative? A life spent making everyone else happy, staying neatly and precisely and preciously in their parameters? She knew that pursuit would never work, because it would never be enough for those people. She would be always dancing. Always trying to be a greater swan for people who wanted her to be a swan. She did not want to be a swan.
So she cut her hair and bought a bunch of baggy clothes, and a backpack, and went overseas. She was only nineteen, so she didn’t have a lot of choices in the take-to-the road department, but she chose Turkey over other people’s Switzerland, and Greece over other people’s France, and a troubled Yugoslavia over other people’s London. And she did a lot of it…“alone” but always with her journal. She liked it that way. Her journal didn’t judge. It didn’t blame. It didn’t ask anything of her but to fill up its pages. And even then, it didn’t really ask. It just offered the possibility of its page and called her to put pen to it in whatever way she wanted. Because the truth was…she still cared what people thought of her. Shhhhh…. It’s her dirty secret.
(Borrowed from my journal, 2018…inspired by the above)
Once upon a time, there was a wildly terrified and wildly curious fifty-two year old woman. She had raised two wildly free children and that had been her life’s goal, outside of being a writer and hopefully a published author. She had achieved her goals. And now she was alone with her journal all over again. She didn’t know why she was so scared. She had a cozy home in the mountains of Montana in a lovely little town full of remarkable souls. She had time on her hands after a long time with no time on her hands.
How to spend it so that her fear would quell, and her wonder would find itself again. In fact, maybe that was what she was so scared of: how to make her time matter now. She wanted to matter. But she didn’t want to matter in the way the world said we should matter: in currency that was not unlike what she left all those years ago. The currency of swans. Beauty. Grace. Being the special bird. For her, it had been by being the different bird. She was beginning to see that in all of her choices, she had never really stopped wanting to be special. Special for following the rules. Special for not following the rules. Special for making up her own rules. Special for achieving excellence in her own rules.
What if she wasn’t special? What would that be like? What if she was totally unremarkable? What if she did what she wanted to do, not as a reaction to what she was supposed to do, but rather, simply because she wanted to do it for herself and for no big reason? What if she didn’t care what people thought of her at all? For real this time.
So, like her nineteen year old self, she decided to go far away from home. She had always wanted to go to Morocco. Something about the color and the spices and the Moorish architecture she’d seen as a child in Spain. She wanted to sit for a long time in places that didn’t require anything from her…and just be. Allow herself to be “spelled differently,” as the poet Emma Mellon suggests. She wanted to go alone with her journal and write on park benches and on ancient steps, under towering archways, and under olive trees’ shade. She wanted to bum around and not have plans. Maybe take a nap in a park instead of always doing doing doing. She wanted to be be be. In fact, she knew she had to. It was the cure for her fear. Her fear of being not this, not that, not this, not that. But simply and purely: just her.
In short: she needed to re-introduce herself to herself and she needed to have all of the usuals removed. Except for her journal and those blank pages. They were the best way she knew to look into her eyes and welcome them as the windows to the soul she longed to finally come home to.
So…this February…she is going. Someone is taking care of her cozy home and she is going to pack a small bag, and get on a plane and wind her way to Morocco for a month. For a week within that month, she will share writing with seven women who are similar seekers, perhaps also longing to “allow themselves to be spelled differently.” She’s not exactly sure what she will find there, and that’s the very reason why she is going. She hopes she will find her wonder again. And cast fear aside so that the future can give itself to her. Maybe she’ll now, finally, be truly free.
Now Booking Haven Writing Retreats Montana 2019!
Come join me in Montana and find your voice! Write your book! Court your muse…all under the big sky. You do not have to be a writer to come to Haven. Just a seeker…longing for community, inspiration, support, and YOUR unique form of self-expression using your love of the written word!
Go here for more info and to set up a call with Laura!
***Haven Wander: Morocco is full.