Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fears & Dreams, Risks & Rewards

Heart in a bottle

High on a shelf

Fragile but just out of reach

Cause you build a fortress

With the distance you keep

But when your heart aches

Doesn’t it cut deep?

There are times in our lives when it feels as though we’re stepping into blackness, uncertain if we’re at the edge of a cliff and about to take a fall or if we’re only moments away from sunrise. Sometimes, we experience this with the big things, and sometimes the reasons seem smaller, but they’re often no less significant.

Many years ago, when I was a bit more athletic than I am now, I took karate. I remember being told we had to execute a move perfectly 2000 times for it to become instinctive. You hear all sorts of promise-laden stats– six weeks to make or break a habit, 12 steps to happiness, etc. Nobody would put 2000 on a book cover. It sounds so discouraging.

Consider then, the heart that’s been broken, the person trying to learn to trust again. Consider how hard every step of that process is, because it is not instinctive. What’s more, the last time you found yourself face down in the dirt, bruised and broken.

Loving, trusting… they can be exhilarating experiences and they can terrify us more than almost anything else.

I’ve had reasons to think about all of that a lot this past year. I can see in the big picture, just how hard it is to open yourself up to the possibility of love again, because with that possibility comes the risk of being hurt.

We have a tradition in our family, to have Christmas crackers. 14 Years ago, however, I was with friends for Christmas, and they too had Christmas crackers. The ones at my sister’s house are filled with silly jokes and toys and paper crowns we have to wear. The ones at my friend’s house contained inspirational sayings. I’ve never forgotten the one that was in my cracker:

Without the sorrows of life

the joys would not exist.

On a smaller scale I go through a version of this every time my work goes out. Yes, every single time. With two books finding their way into the hands of authors and reviewers I admire across the globe, I’m a nervous wreck. This is the moment I bare my soul, in a manner of speaking, and hope they’ll love what I’ve produced. It’s the moment for someone to tell you whether or not your baby is ugly.

That’s what it can feel like, which is why we can be so sensitive about it. Everyone wants to be loved. And when you spend all this time, pouring your heart into your work, it becomes so personal to you.

I swear, cliché as it is, nothing really does describe it better than an emotional roller coaster. If you’re me you agonize over every little thing, you analyze every response and not just what’s said but what’s left unsaid.

It’s possible the only thing more painful is the torture we put ourselves through sometimes over love. And yet, deep down, we believe enough, we love what we’re doing enough, to press on. To write the next book and put ourselves out there again, for better or worse, hoping again that people will get what we’re doing.

And even after utter devastation, after finding our heart broken and facing the end of our dreams for the future, somewhere within us there’s strength to not only heal but to be able to see dawn on the horizon, with the promise of something different, wonderful, exhilarating.

I have to confess, I hate feeling disoriented. In the midst of packing right now, deciding what I need at hand and what I can live with in a box for months, I feel sometimes as though everything is spiraling beyond my control, half in fear that there will be a moment when everything will come out of the boxes and have a new home, because I can’t visualize that in my head. Like so many people, despite my experiences, I’m sometimes terrified of just the process of change. I just want it to be over, right away, so that I can start to feel anchored again. The agony now is in the waiting.

Nothing in life is without risk. Whether it’s going back to school to train for a better career or having a child or writing a book or falling in love, we sometimes have to just follow our heart.

And sometimes, the most important step is just being open to the possibility of something new in our lives.

Heart in a bottle

High on a shelf

Fragile but just out of reach

Cause you build a fortress

With the distance you keep

But when your heart aches

Doesn’t it cut deep?

Withered in sadness

And hurting inside

But feeling afraid to impose

So you’re an island

But you don’t have to be

Cause if you’re inclined

You can talk to me

You don’t have to suffer

Suffer in silence

You don’t have to suffer

Suffer in silence

Don’t you know that your

Heart can feel like an anchor

When you keep it all inside?

No, no, don't suffer in silence

Suffer in Silence by Susan Aglukark


D.A. Davenport said...

Oh man. This post just broke my heart.

Sometimes, Sandra, you have to crawl through hell to find a bit of heaven.

You just have to give it time. Once you have found a new nest to feather, where you are feeling safe and secure again, all of this will lift. You have amazing strength and determination and you will get through this rough time. Hearts do mend and are stronger in the long run for it.

As for your babies, I think we all feel like you when you send them out. My latest, although smaller, personal purgatory is slated to happen in Late January, LOL! And trust me, I am as terrified as you are. Trust yourself and the quality of your work and it will overcome everything.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks DA - and I do know why you're nervous!

Truthfully, I'm doing great, overall. I have down moments, when I feel overwhelmed, but that's normal. And I'm actually pretty excited about what's around the bend.

And I mean to link to your new blog...

And yesterday I started getting my first feedback on the new books. The response has been beyond my hopes, so I've had a few good happy cries... but then I go right back to obsessing...

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'm thinking about you and hoping for the best in your new endeavors. Somewhere someone had a good 2007, but not in my little world.

anne frasier said...

i so agree with patti about 2007. i'm hoping good things for you in 2008, sandra. i already said this on stephen blackmoore's blog, but a number that looks like gallows is just going to be bad. but 8 is so round and cozy.

angie said...

Yes! 2008 will be better! L'Angie has spoken. Or something.

I can't wait to dig into your books, but...I've got at least 2 more that I HAVE to read first for interviews. Just so's ya know...

And hearts kept on a shelf too long get kinda green and gross. Ya gotta take 'em down and let 'em do potentially dangerous things as often as possible. Even if it's scary. Shit, especially if it's scary.