Kind Promise: I will live joyfully without reason.

paintingWriters must live an adventure,” wrote blogger Jeff Goins, explaining why he is traveling to Africa. “I’m not saying you have to create the most epic experiences ever,” he went on, “but there comes a time when you must reconnect with the things that inspire you in order to write them honestly and well.”

When I first read this, it seemed to me that Goins is talking about an inspiration that pulls creators from the muck of the ordinary to the starry skies of romance. That doesn’t feel like me… Not anymore.

When I was in sixth grade, my art class made escape pods. We each received four 2 x 4’ panels of black cardboard and one 2 x 2’ panel. We painted them on both sides, lashed them together with yarn and crawled inside. Lying inside our boxes, we could escape from the world. I was inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night. My box had the night sky on the inside and sunsets on the outside. “You’re such a romantic,” sighed my art teacher.

At that age, I was a romantic. I envisioned a life that included travelling widely, experiencing wildly and, yes, I hoped to write honestly and well.

Instead, my adult life has been one of chronic illness and disability.

I just checked the definition of the word “adventure.” It includes the words “exciting,” “risky” and “uncertain.” I suppose, then, I am living an adventure. It doesn’t, though, inspire me. Frankly, it squashes me flat and that is why Goins’ words disturbed me.

I am not inspired to write. I am driven to write. It’s not a pull, it’s a push. Faced with the difficulties and uncertainties of my life, I am compelled to find meaning and reasons to continue.

I find them not in exotic exploits, but in tiny moments of joy. I don’t have to travel to Africa, I just have to look at the color blue. My emotional journey, then, becomes one of releasing, opening and embracing. I release the agenda of adventurous accomplishments for which my inner 12-year-old clamors. I open to my life as it is and I embrace the small delights scattered around me: the snoring dog, the sunlight on the wood floor, the peanut butter sandwich awaiting me for lunch. These small joys are enough.