I am home sweet stormy home, flying through a blizzard and fog to land on this dear Island of Rock. I am waiting now for a sun break, for a beauty break (which surely will come??)
But let tell you about last week. I flew to L.A., put on a skinny grey dress and black hose and my favorite cowboy boots and joined with my new friends, my co-producers Guy and Amber, and quietly followed the studio execs into a conference room.
What is a Kodiak girl doing at a conference table at a production company in Burbank California? I can’t tell you exactly (apologies for that!), but I can tell you this. This wasn’t part of my plan, my life plan, at all.
In fact, do I have a life plan? (Do you?) I seem to stumble along one year at a time, one month at a time. And when there were many babies in the house, it was one hour at a time, when I was desperately hoping to steal one of those hours for a nap (remember that? Remember how you just hoped everyone would stay alive?)
When I was in college and grad school, and later teaching, it was one semester at a time. And as I’m writing, it’s one book at a time. (Well, sometimes two . ..) And during the summer season when we are fishing, it is one fishing opening at a time, one net-mending day at a time . ..
And I wonder, have I done this all wrong? This week while traveling, I’ve tried to chip away at watching the movies nominated for Academy Awards. When I watch those actors, just as when I watch the Olympics or a cellist or an opera singer, when I watch people with great talent acting and singing and painting and racing and being just jaw-droppingly excellent, I wonder: have I wasted my life?
They have pointed their whole selves toward one thing, and through devotion and sacrifice, they have done it. They have become an Artist, Actor, Concert Pianist, Bible Scholar, Chef, Olympic Athlete.
Annie Dillard writes about this in "Living Like Weasels," about discovering your calling, “your one necessity” in life:
"I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. "
Don’t you want this single necessity?? To find that one calling? To live life so purely, instead of being pulled in 100 directions at once, as indeed I am, I always am? (Right now I am working at writing, speaking, singing, playwrighting, producing, cooking, acting . . . )
And now, because of that meeting in Burbank, I am adding a TV project to the list. (I am joyfully adding a TV project to the list.)
Next week I will be talking to my (literary) agent, who will ask me this too. “Leslie, what is your plan for your writing?” I know what he will tell me, again. The publishing world is changing so fast, and unless writers “brand” themselves with a single brand, a single subject area, and plan ahead, they wont’ make it. But I cannot do it. The world is too big and varied for a single plan, a single topic.
And I wonder, at the end of my life, what will all my running and dabbling amount to? I'll never be a competitive athlete, a professional actress, a spectacular orator, a bestselling author . . . Am I doing it all wrong? Should I choose just One?
But I finish the essay. And Dillard says this,
“The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse."
I believe I am doing this. To these voices then,that chide and defeat me for all I will not become or achieve, I remember this:
Our first Calling in life is not to a particular line of work or to a gift to be honed to perfection. Our Calling is first and most of all this: to follow Jesus. HE is that “tender live spot,” the very heart of Life itself. And if we are to live well, if we are to live at ALL, we must reach out and grasp and plug into that pulse with all of our might and never let go.
And like this, Oh the places He will take us!! His love is so vast, his presence so everywhere present, we will find Him in all the realms he brings to us. There is no kitchen or stage or office or classroom or gym or conference room or ocean I have not found Him in and on. And He gives me delight in all of it, tinkerer and amateur though I am and always will be.
My soul is stilled. I DO have a life plan after all. And you do too. This is our One Calling, our One Necessity: To be latched on to the very beating heart of Life itself and to go wherever He takes us---loving, dancing, cooking, writing, singing, quilting, running, resting with Him all the way to the end of our days.
And what shall they say of us that day our friends gather to remember us?
I hope they will this about us, just this:
"She followed Jesus---everywhere."
And I hope Jesus will say this, just this:
"Well done, dear and faithful daughter."