commit. or quit.

a great revelation came to me this week.

i was playing tennis and, realizing i was going lax on the serves, began to coach myself.  

“you’re not committing,” i said, in my sternest attempt at a reprimand.  i tossed the ball, raised my racket and swung.  each serve, i had to repeat the phrase.  “commit or quit,” i said, over and over.

as we played, my mind was quickly absorbed in a story line about a young tennis player.  in between hits and points, i let the narrative stream over my thoughts, swearing i would spend the afternoon writing out the bones of the story.  knowing i never really would.

and then the coach came.

“it’s time to commit.  or quit.”  but this time i knew the reprimand had nothing to do with tennis.  and everything to do with my writing.  

a great panic seized me, leaving me unable to focus on the game for several strokes.  writing, i recalled, was the thing i always came back to.  it was the thing i’ve done since i was a young girl, writing stories about explorers and adventurers and kids living big lives.  it’s the thing that i’ve always been naturally good at, the thing people have consistently complimented me on.  

it’s also been the thing i’ve considerably neglected, while still pining to write the great American novel.

commit.  or quit.

the command repeated over and over throughout the game, leaving me reeling.  i knew it was true, that i hadn’t committed, which led to a deeper question: why?

because i was afraid.

and then the deeper, harder-to-swallow question: why was i afraid?

because it might fail me.  that’s the deep, dark heart of it all.  i might put all i am and have into a writing venture, only to have it fail me in the end.  i might invest and lose.  and this thing, this friend that i’ve had since childhood, might not be my friend anymore.  it feels a bit like dating a really good friend; there’s that fear that the relationship might not work out and then you’ve lost someone really special to you.

but the truth is, no matter how afraid, i can’t keep playing “writer” and not writing.  i can’t keep messing around with the idea of writing, hoping someday i’ll do something with it.  the crossroads have come, and it’s time to commit to writing.  or quit altogether.

i’m not quite sure what that path looks like, exactly.  what practices i’ll add, or when.  i want any changes i make to my life to be sustainable. my thoughts, as i’ve been processing these things, have been slowly letting my true priorities rise to the top, like cream rising from fresh milk, waiting to be skimmed off and made into something delicious.

for now, i can settle only on the simplest truth: i need to write.  Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, i’ll have the courage to follow through with it.

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2 thoughts on “commit. or quit.

  1. Great post today and very inspirational. A lot of people are scared of failure. I know, I used to be one of them until there came a year where I happen to fail at everything, personally and professionally. But I’m still here. And you’re right it really comes down to committing or quitting, the decision needs to be made first and then you can move on. I decided to commit, of course and I got a great sense of self-worth afterwards. Not because I was on the best-seller list, but because I committed. I got some success and in the end I got some success, but I’m still chugging away. Very good post today I really enjoyed the mantra and sending you some positive vibes.

  2. Packing up boxes today, and found several notes from you. 🙂 The one that made me laugh the most was you telling me you were so glad I was able to see God moving in Costa Rica, and how you were really loving your job at Family Video. And several, of course, with mentions of cows. Love you.

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