“I have seen the fate your spirit reaches for, but it is a path fraught with peril, and you may still fail to reach it.” Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett
I read that quote this morning as I drank my coffee on my sunroom porch with my dogs snoring softly by my feet. My son recommended this novel. It is a fantasy filled with demons and violence and blood and gore—all the things that teenage boys like.
Yet this morning that quote spoke to me.
In it I heard peoples’ dreams and futures and even their recoveries. It reminded me that the path is often difficult, arduous and without guarantee. So, where is the lure in that? Why bring it up here—isn’t this quote too disappointing and worrisome? Maybe—unless you focus on the spirit part.
To my reading the spirit is our inner self. Our spirit is what makes us who we are. It is what makes us special. It is often difficult to reach our dreams, our goals, our true gifts. That path is often fraught with peril—criticisms and disappointments. It is filled with ongoing challenges and obstacles. We may fail to reach it, but are the other roads any easier? Think of the wonder when we do let our true spirits sing.
In my life, I discovered that my spirit reaches for writing. It reaches for therapy and working with others to help them achieve their dreams. Before, when I didn’t make time to write, I felt empty and weighted down by the world. But the writing life is fraught with peril and depending on the expectations that I place on it, I may not reach a certain “goal”. Yet that doesn’t have to be viewed as a failure. The journey, itself, is what is important. The journey is life. Through this journey--we learn, we experience, we grow.
Goals in writing include publication. While a goal is important if it helps provide a purpose, it can be a negative—a peril. If I put so much emphasis on the goal such that I don’t enjoy writing in the moment that is not a benefit. If we focus only on what if and not on what now, we miss out on many things along the way. Even when I reached the goal of publication, one of my books went out of print before I even knew what happened. I published a picture book and 2 years later, it was gone from the publisher’s catalog.
This story is not to dampen anyone’s goals. I learned a lot writing the book and getting it published. I met lots of fabulous people through writing conferences and school visits. And that is from only that one project. From writing itself? I’ve learned about myself. I’ve made friends and have had a chance to use writing to help others. So, yes, the writing path and the path of self-discovery can be scary. It may even be perilous at times. It may not have led me to my desired goal of a best-selling book, but it has been a journey that I wouldn’t want to trade.
- Journal to discover what your spirit is reaching for. Try the prompt, my spirit yearns for…. Or my spirit needs….. It is important to discover what your true self desires—what fate it might be reaching for.
- Journal to discover your inner self. Can you describe him or her? Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, maybe listen to some quiet music. Breathe and let yourself wander. Then take up your pen and write—describe your inner self. In the past when I have done this, I have discovered a woman creatively dressed in flowing scarves who danced among a rocky hillside and ducked into a cave. To me she was an embodiment of brave creativity—ducking into dark places and willing to find what might be buried in those depths.
- Journal to discover what perils you fear. Thinking about them may help you be ready to face down disappointments that may come your way.
- Journal to discover what strengthens and talents you bring to this path. How have you dealt with challenges before? What skills will you be able to harness? When have you stumbled in the past? What might you need to put in place to help you get through the upcoming challenges?
- Journal to discover inspiration for your journey. Find a symbol or animal that can inspire you. When I write, I think of dolphins that plunge deep into the ocean, but then surface again. It makes me think of plunging into the creative well, but then coming back to the light of day—to real life.
Go, Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD