I made a somewhat horrifying discovery last week. As I excavated the computer desk, descending through layers of papers waiting to be filed, responded to or otherwise dealt with, I unearthed my work list, compiled last December in order to keep myself from overdoing it during the Year of the Baby. I had forgotten a writing assignment. It was due in five days.
Five days to prepare a polished freelance writing assignment.
I’ve been feeling increasingly crazed these last few weeks, and I no longer attach my hopes to some arbitrary date for deliverance. It really should get better after one set of deadlines passes, for instance. But it doesn’t. Instead, I shift focus to an altogether different set of stresses. Like all the housework and home projects I’ve allowed to pile up while I devoted my energy to deadlines.
I used to hesitate to share things like this, for fear of inviting criticism from others scolding me, telling me what I can and can’t handle. But I’m beginning to realize all of us are fighting the same battle, the same misguided idea that we are somehow, in some way, indispensible.
The thing I never expected about writing was the way it would stretch me inward. It seems that almost every assignment I undertake connects intimately to some life lesson I desperately need; it’s as if Heaven hammers home different facets through conversations, interviews, and the reading/writing process, assembling the picture for me piece by piece until I can’t miss the point.
I am not indispensible.
I don’t want to be indispensible.
It is not my job to save the world.
And this is what I will remember as the kids go back to school, as Nicholas goes off for the first time, as I suddenly have stretches of time in which kids are not interrupting me. I will remember that throwing balls and playing Spot-It cast at least as many long-term ripples as columns, award-winning articles or even a novel.
Words are my vehicle to touch people I will never meet, but they only have meaning if they stand upon the bedrock of the people I love.
I am not indispensible…except to my family.
I will keep that truth before me…today, tomorrow, and always.