I don’t know for sure, but I think Star Trek ruined something in me.
It’s probably Jean-Luc Picard’s fault.
Jean-Luc Picard with his certainty and his strength. Jean-Luc Picard with his strangely perfect bald head and ability to look hot in a unitard. And Jean-Luc Picard with his mesmerizing British accent and deep, compelling voice.
Space, Picard said at the beginning of every Next Generation episode, and I fell into a trance. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.
It was the best part of the show, no doubt. That opening sequence. And I bought what Jean-Luc sold. Oh, maybe not the crinkly wrapping; I can do without space travel, I think, what with its lack of air, excess of Earl Grey tea, and affinity for naked wedding ceremonies. But I bought the heart of what Jean-Luc sold. The longing for new life. The belief that other people are worth finding. And especially the desire to boldly go.
Oh, how I long to boldly go.
And oh, how stuck I’ve felt at different check points along life’s journey.
How enmired and entrenched.
How unworthy and small.
How certain that I’m wasting this one life I have.
How frustrated and lonely.
And yet, and yet, and yet.
I long to boldly go.
It tugs at the heartstrings, this idea that we dare to venture into uncharted territory. That we explore the edges of our safe space. That we discover new principles and find engaging ways to communicate. That we tell new stories, or find that the old stories are still true in new places.
We ache to boldly go. Don’t we? But we feel sometimes as though all the land has been trampled and used up. Like the space is occupied. Like we’re nothing new or special or unique. That someone else has stories that tell truth better or more thoroughly or even just louder.
So we squash our boldness, and we shove it down, and we tell it that there’s no room for it. No place to go because we’re not inspiring or creative.
We’re bland, we think, and bland and bold don’t go together.
But when we think these things, we’re wrong.
Because we must Boldly Go lest we miss out on life.
And if we walk the paths that others have trod, well then, good for us. Good for us for finding any path at all through the wilderness and for recognizing a way forward. Good for us for honoring the path-makers by smoothing their work and keeping it in good repair.
Sometimes, we must boldly go where others have gone before. I’m starting to suspect that it’s the Bold Going – and not necessarily the space – that defines us.
I’m about to boldly go, you guys. And I’ve been wandering around in internal circles trying to figure out how to tell you. I considered, in fact, not telling you at all. I considered waiting until my Bold Going is a success I can trumpet… or a failure I can roll up in a rug and lug from my house in the dark of night and sink in wet cement at a nearby building site where no one will ever discover what I’ve done. But that’s not how we do things around here, is it? That’s not how this corner of the blogosphere works. We don’t hide our failures and pretend that only successes happen.
So here’s the deal:
I’m quitting the job I love with the organization I adore because I’m writing a book.
I’m writing a book.
It’ll be a book. Written by me.
Most people announce things like this after they have, you know, a book deal. Or interest from publishers in a book deal. Or something more substantive than, “Hey, you guys! I’m taking a giant leap in the dark, and I have no idea where I’ll land!”
I thought about being like most people. But meh. How dull.
Here’s the hard truth I’ve discovered. I want to do a lot of things, and I want to do them all well, but the more things I try to do, the more they all suffer. So I’ve spent months buckling down, thinking, pondering, praying, and talking with Greg. I’ve thought a lot about what’s safe for my family and what’s risky and what role I play in this world. I’ve spent time agonizing over finances and taking deep breaths. And in the end, I decided to take the advice of a wise man who said to me, “Life is full of choices. You can do what’s safe, or you can do what’s right.”
Life is full of choices. You can do what’s safe, or you can do what’s right.
So I’m off to take a chance to do what’s risky and right. Even though it might be a gigantic failure.
I’m going to do what’s risky and write.
I’m going to boldly go, although the Bold Going looks a whole lot like being terrified and choosing to free-fall anyway.
And I’m asking you to jump with me.
Because here’s another truth I know. Writers are only a piece of the book pie. Readers are the ones who make writers’ dreams come true. Readers make us. With every Like on Facebook, every blog comment, every time you share a link online or in person, every HOORAY – KEEP GOING, every encouragement, you help us Go, and you help us find our Boldly.
So you who’ve been my family and my friends for a very long time… and you who’ve become my friends here… you who are my authentic, complex, both/and, hilarious, commiserating, uplifting community… you who’ve asked for this book in comments and e-mails and in person… I am so very grateful for you and your reckless encouragement.
Because it’s not really Jean-Luc Picard’s fault, this risky, risky attempt I’m making.
And I’m thrilled we’re in this together.
P.S. In the weeks to come, I’m assembling a team of folks to help promote this effort. If you want to help, leave a comment below, and I’ll use your e-mail address (private to only me – never, ever shared!) to assemble a list of folks for e-mail updates and to let you know about specific ways you can help. Did I tell you yet how grateful I am for you? I am. So grateful.
107 responses to “Boldly Go (or, An Announcement about Your Reckless Encouragement)”
[…] the job, even for all the right reasons, including my child’s sanity and my own, as well as the plan to pursue writing “THE BOOK,” was full of grief. The right thing, for sure; also, hard. However, the CEO of Medical Teams, Martha […]
This is an old post, I know, but I wanted to say thanks for the honesty because when I have been losing my mind, I can stop by here and not feel so alone. Thank you and keep on writing.
How is your book going? I will share info with everyone I know. Before I’d finished reading your first blog post, I thought to myself “this gal’s got to write a book!!” Apparently I was not alone, and a little late to the game as well. Go, Beth!!!!!!!!! Can’t wait to find it on amazon. Please email me updates. You rock, fellow adoptive mama.
So I am really, really late to this party, but I wanted to chime in and offer support, encouragement, and some kick-butt proofreading and critiquing skills (I’m a high school English teacher). People have told me I should write a book too, about raising triplets and having post-partum depression and figuring out how to do this parenting thing with grace, and it both terrifies and exhilarates me. But I’m not ready yet. In the meantime, I would love to be part of your writer circle. Or just cheerleading squad. Please add me to The List.
Hi, Beth. I’ve spent the last two days reading your blog and doing little else. I just couldn’t put the iPad down. I have laughed and cried and lived it all in two days. I’m worn out! 🙂 I can’t believe I’ve never stumbled across it before. Just before I got to this post I was thinking why isn’t this lady published yet? I was telling my husband how I would so buy your book. The hard cover price. And then I got to this post and got that weird Truman Show feeling. 🙂 I wanted to comment on some other posts but I’ll lump it all here since we just met. It feels a bit scary to post this where anyone can read it but I guess that’s what this blog is all about. I wanted to say how much I appreciate your honesty and courage. Some of the things you’ve written about (depression and the death of your friend) have been so comforting and affirming. You made me feel not lonely about those parts of my past. I love your humorous perspective. It was especially moving to me to read your adoption entries. The way my family handled my birth father and his culture was different. I was told often that that was not my culture and he was not my real dad. I guess it was like a “clean break” method. It hurt, and it hurt my parents that it hurt, and it hurt me that it hurt my parents that it hurt. Long story short, I made my own “home country” trip a few years ago, as an adult. It widened the rift between my dad and me, because he said, essentially, that I was choosing who was “real”. I wasn’t – I just needed to know about that part of me. It warmed my heart and made me cry to read about your home country trips. I can’t express how moved I was and how happy it made me. So anyway, a very belated thank you for this blog. Your voice is awesome. Your make me laugh. And cry. I will be in line to buy your book. I will buy copies for my sisters and friends. Please put me on your update/help list! 🙂
Thank you, Anna. Your note made my day. I so appreciate both your encouragement and your willingness to share your story with us! It’s a pleasure to meet you; I’m so glad you took the time to introduce yourself. One of the very best things about this space is the way we get to know each other. I’ve added you to my book update email list so you’ll get the latest news on that. I hope you’ll continue to share yourself here.
Sending love to you and yours,