stepping over rocks and roots

As a child, when I wanted to write, I just pulled out a pen and my notebook and started a new story. I didn’t spend time thinking about how the plot should progress or what would be a strategic way to introduce new characters. I simply started writing and let the words take me into the story.

My best friend Anna and I wrote a book together in third and fourth grades. We filled a whole journal with stories and illustrations about two horses and the family who owned them. We would pass the book back and forth so I could put in words and she could put in pictures. Sometimes, that’s how I would spend my recess time (when I wasn’t playing touch football or basketball with the boys)- seated at a picnic table with a pen and my ideas for what new adventure Penny and Misty would go on.

Now, as a grown up, I spend too much time thinking and planning and crafting. I want to write, but it takes so much more effort. I don’t know if my imagination has drifted into more of a need for structure, or if I have just developed a habit of over-thinking. I want to write, and I find it life-giving, but I spend so much time being overwhelmed at the idea of pursuing writing instead of just doing it.

I think adults are like that in general with their dreams. We are told as children that we can be anything we want to be. Even in college, we daydream about the crazy things we could do once we graduate. But something happens within the season of getting a job and starting a lease or mortgage and paying bills and getting married where dreams seem unobtainable. No longer do we feel like we can do anything – decisions have to be made with strategy and budget considerations and logic. One can’t just quit his job to move without a new job already set up in a new location. You typically can’t take a month off to embark on an epic road trip. Bucket lists have to be accomplished within the span of weekends or vacation days. And the dream of writing outside of this blog one day seems so daunting that I don’t sit down to just start writing.

Graduating college and becoming an adult used to carry with it this hope of freedom, of finally being out of the confines of school and studying and having your next step planned out for you. If I am being honest, though, in the past four years since graduating, I have felt more trapped in the confines of adulthood. My next step may not be planned out for me, but I find I am less willing to take risks. I like to think I have an adventurous and brave perspective on life, but it is often more in my daydreaming than actually carrying out those dreams.

I also like to think I can come up with all of the answers I am looking for, especially within the span of a blog post. If I just write long enough, maybe my fingers will subconsciously type all that I need to know. I like the idea of my writing being like a guided hike; I want to be just a few steps ahead and encourage you in what I have learned on the trail so far (often thanks to mentors and guides who are in turn a few steps ahead of me).

As I have been pondering these questions, though, all I can figure out is to look at the next step – to hike on without knowing exactly how to get to the end of the trail except to step over one rock or root at a time. 

My rocks and roots to pursue writing involve creating space to write, savoring words I love, and learning to be more honest with myself and with others. Maybe for you it’s a new job, and your next step is to start a brainstorm list of what skills you have and what things you are passionate about. Or, if you want to take a trip, start saving and collecting maps and travel tips. Whatever your dream is, don’t get overwhelmed by how unattainable it seems. Simply figure out the next attainable step.

Don’t let the length or the difficulty of the trail scare you away from trying to hike it. And I am preaching that more to myself than to you.


{What does it look like for you to pursue dreams? How do you keep yourself from being caught up in the boundaries we create for ourselves as adults? What does freedom truly look like?}


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