I wanted to play the saxophone. I imagined myself a hip, cool, wild and free saxophonist, muppet Zoot and Janice style. Sadly, I was a disgruntled pianist who, in addition to playing sax, wanted to be a brave, soaring solo vocalist. I tried. I remember singing in a trio in high school but when I went off key, from the audience my mother put her finger up to her lips to shush me. I was mortified and swore off spotlight singing from then on.
I was just a boring pianist. Sure, I successfully played for 13 years. Yes, I won competitions. Yes, the neighbors said they opened their windows when i was practicing so they could hear me play. Yes, I had my own piano students when I was 13 years old. But still, it wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to play that big, unwieldy formal instrument. I was Zoot in spirit.
I also always wanted blond hair like Nellie Olson, not the thick heavy asian hair that I was gifted. So often we want what we cannot have and envy those who do.
I fell asleep the other night crying. The last thing I remember sobbing was “but I don’t want to be a writer!” It isn’t that I don’t love writing or appreciate the impact of well placed words on lives. It is just that I never imagined my life would be so solitary and quiet at this point. “I’m a teacher. A pastor. A preacher. A leader. I’m supposed to be at the microphone not sequestered to my desk, writing word pictures in anonymity that may never be read.”
If this sounds like a temper tantrum, it is. If it sounds like ingratitude, its because it is.
Twenty years ago when I moved into this small town a dear friend, retired pastor and brilliant writer used to say to me EVERY TIME I visited their house, “Jill! You need to write. You can reach so many more people if you write. Start writing. You can do it!” He had no idea that inside my heart there were many books already started and so many stories ‘banked” for just the right moment. He sensed something that God was already speaking. The truth is, I may never have taken the time to discover whether writing “fit” me or not if I weren’t forced to be still, be silent and be alone. But I have and I truly love it. “I’m listening Brother Brandt. Thank you.”
Today I thank God for the things I am, without diminishing myself or the gifts I have by wanting something else. So with gratitude in one hand and my pen in the other the only thing I can say now is . . . how am I supposed to hold my coffee?!