Writers Write

lighted utility posts on field

Life is less complicated than we think it to be. For over a decade, I wrote without readers and left my dreams of becoming a writer to the distant future – truly believing that the rest was out of my control. The idea of producing works for the exchange of money or to write simply for the art of writing – releasing my words out into the wild without expectation or regret seemed an impossible feat. Until one day it wasn’t.  

The transition from day dreamer to writer was a slow and clumsy journey. My parents and husband were, and still are, my biggest fans. Cheering me on and offering constructive criticism. But where there is creative energy flowing, there too, will be doubt lurking in the shadows. There have been several times in my journey to writer-hood were I have doubted not only my abilities but my commitment to the process. Thankfully, these struggles have been short lived.

My mantra for the last several months has been “Writers write.” So simple, yet to sit and write when one has nothing to say can feel like climbing a mountain, only to rise to the summit, look down and realize that you are no more than a few feet from the ground, and the summit has somehow risen even higher than before.

The idea that we only need to decide what we are and then remove what stands in the way to become or achieve that ideal, is not a novel approach. When I was in culinary arts school, I had an instructor who was a truly gifted ice sculptor. When teaching students how to carve ice, he’d often say “Great. Now just cut away anything that doesn’t look like a Swan…” (or whatever the student was trying to carve). For him it was as simple as deciding what the ice should be and then making it so. Ice sculptors sculpt ice.

Yesterday, I joined a kickball league. What started as an innocent conversation with some friends, snowballed into a series of events, some of which I still don’t fully understand, which resulted in me showing up to a field thirty miles from my house to practice with a group of people I had never met before.

As I walked towards players, who were obviously very serious about the sport of kickball, I muttered to myself that “kickball players play kickball.” As I approached, I swallowed any athletic pride that had carried me thus far and introduced myself as their newest player, and informed them that I hadn’t played kickball for thirty plus years.

One hour later, I was in it to win it. The barriers of doubt and fear dissolved with each new hint, rule, or tip, that I learned from my fellow players. It was all so simple; I wanted to play kickball, an opportunity arose and now I was playing kickball. Life really does work out if you let it.

However, not everyone was enthusiastic about my presence. I showed up with no cleats or knowledge of the sport and now I was playing amongst them. Chasing fouls and missing the ball more than catching it. One player stood out amongst the rest, who seemed to focus on who wasn’t there and what skills we didn’t have, opposed to the reality of the present moment. For this sole individual, there was more required to excel at kickball than just playing kickball.

This experience impacted me more than it probably should have. I felt unwelcomed and questioned my value to the team. I mistook the words and actions of one player as the collective experience of the entire team.

After some reflection, I decided that unless told otherwise, I was part of the team and that I was going to show up and play kickball because that’s what kickball players do.

Then I watched with quiet disdain as this individual wrote the rest of the team members on a group chat with messages of shame and comparison. This person claimed to never miss a practice, therefore, no one else has an excuse. The one-sided argument grew until this person talked themselves off the team.

What remained once this person left, was a group of people who wanted to play kickball. Sure, we all understand that practices are important and that it lets the team down if you don’t make it, but at the core, we are just people who want to play kickball. Life happens to us all, and none of us could be the arbitrators of someone else’s woes. We will carry on and play the rest of the season and this individual will not. I could hypothesize all day about what drove this person’s actions but doubt it actually had anything to do with kickball.

Writers write. Kickball players play kickball. Those seeking disharmony will find disharmony.

Today, I find myself grateful for circumstance and the opportunity to be a part of my family, community, and most recently, my kickball team. I will strive to remember that goals are simple if I do not have conflicting wants. Having a single purpose in my goals allows me to pivot when required and shields me from the chaos that clouds people with unknown motivations. I am looking forward to what comes next.

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