When I was leaving full-time professional ministry for the second time I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. A speech given at the end of the novel pretty much summed up what I felt about my existence at that moment (I’d say spoilers but it’s on you, this bad boy’s been around for decades):
“Now, let’s get on upstream,” said Granger. “And hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spiting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”*
I’d written a memoir about surviving physical and emotional hurricanes and had secured representation by a reputable Christian literary agency and hoped that it would only be a matter of time before my manuscript was published. Once published, some of the hardship I’d endured over the last eight years would be shared with some of the other lonely people and some of the pain would be redeemed. I dreamed that at 32 I would have found my calling and my career and some of the words I’d written would be some of those encouraging quotes on your Instagram Feeds and Pinterest Boards.
That did not happen.
What happened instead was that the next couple of years were some of the most difficult I’d experienced. I took a job that I thought would provide me income while I pursued my dream of writing but it instead crushed my spirit and caused a serious re-injury to my right arm. Eventually I lost said job because of the injury and spent that Christmas season unable to work, with mounting medical bills, in unemployment limbo, without food stamps, in one room of a shared apartment aka straight-up broke and desolate. Then the New Year arrived with an email from my agency basically crushing my hopes and dreams in a way that was anything but loving and kind. Christians. I mean really. We’re the WORST.
Over the next few months I shared some posts on this blog that I’d written prior, but overall, I stopped writing.
I didn’t want to write anymore. I didn’t want to remember. I didn’t want to put a mirror up to myself or any of the people around me. I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to like what I would see and was concerned about the people I might hurt by what I would say, not the least of those being myself.
So I did something I don’t usually do. I gave myself some grace. I told Me that it was OK to take a break from writing. It was OK to take a break from relentlessly pursuing my dream. It was OK just to be.
And you know what, it was and it still is.
The struggle has been and continues to be real, my friends, but now I’m ready to once again pick up my pen and write about it. And by pen I mean open my laptop and type. Although, I do use a green pen in my journal, but I digress. As I usually do. Some things never change.
*excerpt from page 242 of Fahrenheit 451: Part 3 Burning Bright by Ray Bradbury