"Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverb 13:12)
I love music. I listen to the radio while I am getting dressed and driving in the car, while I am cooking and working on my computer. Music accompanies me while I am waiting for the bus, riding on the subway, and walking around DC. My interests vary from classical to jazz, hip hop to new age, pop to old school R&B. I just LOVE music.
But I rarely sing out loud. When riding in the car as a child, I often would sing along to the radio. My fellow passengers, namely my relatives, begged me to stop. They said my voice sounded like hyenas. I was encouraged to stop singing and leave it the singer on the radio. So I did. I stopped using my voice. Even though years later, I was told my voice was rich--and I just needed to learn to sing "on key."
I don't ever hope to be a world-class prima donna. I have no aspirations about being a professional singer, but I could join an adult choir and spend time doing something I love. But I don't. I never have. Louder than the voice of my one encourager are the numerous yet 30-year-old voices of my critics telling me how awful I sound. Music is a passion that I never pursued in any meaningful way.
Writing is another of my passions. I've read books on writing by Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg and Joan Anderson. They all say the same thing--"Write. Write every day." And I have. I write in my journal just about each day, and have filled dozens of books with my thoughts. I have an idea for a memoir, chronicling my journey through illness. But that's as far as I have gotten. I have never taken the book idea seriously. I have never set aside time to write more than a few pages of stream-of-consciousness. I've had no faith in myself. I've thought, "I could never be a WRITER like Anne, Joan and Natalie."
Reading through The Artist's Way, I have been encouraged to remember the things that stood in the way of me expressing my creativity. I remembered recently that I had the opportunity to take a nonfiction writing class in college with John McPhee, "widely considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction."
I enjoy writing creative nonfiction. I discovered the genre in college, and know it is my preferred style of writing. I like writing the truth, but I want to develop the plot and characters so that they are as readable and enjoyable as the best piece of fiction. I had the opportunity to participate in a small group seminar with Mr. McPhee during my junior year of college. I applied and was accepted. But I didn't take the course. I had the chance to hone my craft with an expert in the field, but I lacked the faith and conviction I needed to follow my dream.
It has been interesting to go back, and unearth these long-forgotten memories. I can see how early I formed the false idea that I wasn't talented or creative. I can see how I allowed that myth to linger and grow over time as I followed more academic and less artistic pursuits. I also see the consequences of deferring my dreams for such a long time. I have lived with a sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction for most of my adult life. I have jumped from one job to the next, because none were just the right fit.
My best friend in college took that McPhee writing class. She worked at The Washington Post, and eventually went on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. She lived her dream.
This week, I visited the "Represent" exhibit of African American art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The last piece I saw as I exited the gallery was a quilt by Sarah Mary Taylor. Ms. Taylor began making appliqué quilts in 1979, at the age of 63. The "Hands" Quilt was created the next year, and today it hangs in a world-class museum. One year after pursuing her career as an artist, Ms. Taylor created something that thousands of people pay money to see displayed every day. I realized it's not too late--even for me.
I am terrified to call myself a "writer." It is easier to conceive of myself as an educator, life coach or yoga instructor. There is a path for each of those that includes employment and compensation. I am not sure where the writing road will lead me, or if I will ever be able to earn a penny with my words. But I know I must. Poet Langston Hughes warns me:
What happens to a dream deferred?
What's your dream? What is your passion? What does your soul yearn to do?
Listen for the answers, and then find some way to do it.
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.