“How about mango?” I ask.
And even though the question is delivered entirely without context, she knows exactly what I’m talking about.
So we skip off to my room and pore over paint chips (she prefers spiced pumpkin, by the way, and I think she may be right), and somewhere in the midst of all the scheming, a simple statement slips off my tongue.
“I feel better.”
And again, my mother is awesome enough to know I’m not just talking about paint chips.
“I’m glad,” she says. And then… “Do you think it’s because you gave yourself permission?”
I’m ashamed to say her summary was absolutely right. Ashamed to say it took me eight long months to finally give myself permission to be happy in this time and place. Eight long months before I learned to tell myself, “Rebekah, stop fighting. Stop striving, stop trying, stop hoping for something different when different is so very far away.”
I’m the kind of person who thrives on productivity. I have to produce something. I have to feel like something has been accomplished during my day. I have to have tangible evidence that I’m doing something worthwhile.
But evidence isn’t always tangible. We can’t always see what we have accomplished, and that’s where things start to get complicated. That’s where I start to doubt myself and my purpose and a hundred other stupid things.
I’m reading a book called A Million Little Ways. And in this book, the author said something that has completely revolutionized my way of thinking. When talking about her life, her gifts and passions, she comes to this realization:
My goal is a finished book—I call that my art. Yet there is a deeper work happening. I chase what I think is the art, but really that’s just the evidence… The real art is the invisible work happening in the depths of my soul as I uncover, sink, see, listen, and wait.
The book is just the souvenir.
Thank you, Emily Freeman, for turning my world on its head. For reminding me that I am more than this project that has me so completely frustrated. For reminding me that it’s not about the book. It has never been about the book.
I’m realizing that now. And little by little, I’m learning to give myself permission to live right where I’m at. One day, one minute, one ever-faithful brushstroke at a time.