Just Write {40}

June 18, 2012

I was looking at pictures on facebook. Beautiful ocean Instagrams to be exact. The kind that make you feel the salt water on your skin and the wind blowing your hair all the way over here in Minnesota, where we are ocean-less but full of lakes.

The truth is, the ocean terrifies me. It’s beautiful and epic and I love it and it terrifies me.

There are so many parts of me like this. Like that Sara Groves song says,
“I’ve got layers of lies
that I don’t even
know about yet.”

I haven’t been lying about how I feel about the ocean, that’s not what I mean. It just takes me awhile to admit some things to myself and then out loud to be heard and either tossed or taken in.

There are layers with truths because my fear of the ocean goes beyond a fear of drowning or being eaten by a shark. It’s about feeling too small and maybe feeling an aversion to things that are foreign to me. I’ve never lived by the ocean–I’ve only stood next to it for moments here and there and so it remains a vast mystery, a stranger waiting to swallow me.

It’s hard to admit things that make a stranger not a stranger and then to wait, for your things to be tossed or taken in. Like a message in a bottle, where will it go?

I felt really small around strangers this weekend. I went to an art studio hop all by myself until I felt so insecure (really, that was a choice, not anyone’s fault) that I went home and took the second nap I’ve had since Elsie was born. I wore myself out with lies and fears. Do I look like I don’t have any friends to take along? I don’t have any friends to take along. I talked too much, I said too much. I probably totally freaked that awesome artist right out. She thinks I’m weird.

Stuff like that. Lies.

I’m used to the water. I grew up in the lake and I didn’t care if fish nibbled at my toes or if seaweed pulled at my feet from the lake bottom. I didn’t think I was going to drown every time I jumped off the big tower out in the deep or off the pontoon. Lakes are familiar old friends that have always known me back. They comfort me despite their propensity to swallow or bite. I can take the risk with a a lake.

I’ve got layers of lies that I don’t even know about yet.

After the nap I woke up feeling less paranoid and I told Ryan that I still can’t stop thinking about the little restaurant that’s for sale on Main Street. I told him I went in to take a look around and I imagined all that it could be. Neither of us wants to run a restaurant, but what else could it be? How could we use it to bring community and serve community? I love to dream and I know dreams are more like the ocean than like lakes but I do it anyway. I am passionate about dreaming and I’m a visionary and I skip past a million oceans when it comes down to it.  It’s like looking at pictures on facebook and ooohing and aaaahing and not actually feeling the saltwater or wind, just thinking about it. I walk right up and I see the beauty and then sooner or later I think about the sharks or the hard work of swimming into something that big and I run back to the lakes, you know?

Since we were near the art studio hop when we went back to look at the restaurant as a family, we stopped in one of the studios I had loved the most. I was buffered by my family with strangers all around and it was a whole new experience, like a life jacket or one of those cages that keeps sharks from you. I got to see the strangers more clearly, apart from lies and I became more of myself, less scared and more open, like the lake that I am. These strangers are lovely people, of course. And so are my dreams and maybe this time. This time. I won’t just dream and then fear and then toss…but I’ll say it right out loud over and over until it’s taken in and I finally just do the thing my heart and mind have been shaking hands over.

Lately I know without a doubt that living fully alive means danger and adventure and risk. It laughs in the face of the simple comforts and norms I call lakes. It is the ocean, this kind of living, and I know it’s what I want for myself and for my family. I want us to work together to serve in hard ways, knowing all the while that real living means yes, you could get swallowed and you will face some sharks but you will live. While you’re alive, you’ll live.

I love the ocean, but it terrifies me.


This is the 40th (!!!) installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments{Please see the details here.}  I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main pageThen please link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.) (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.)

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