Once upon a time, a girl made something from nothing.
She made fairy castles from mud and twigs, painted her dreams in every color and spun worlds from words.
Oh how she loved the Making.
The bubbling luminescent Love of it gilded everything with possibility.
And then one day, someone intruded. A neighbor boy jeered at her fairy castle, a beloved teacher praised her best friend’s painting but not hers and a parent told her to stop wasting her time making up stories and go learn her sums.
Or, the natural Gap opened between what she could make and what she wanted to make. But there was no one to take her by the hand and teach her how to build her own bridge across the Gap. And the worry was planted: what if she wasn’t good enough?
Whatever the source, her faith in the Making was endangered.
A cage of razor-edged thorns tried to grow between the creating and her, pricking her with, “But if it isn’t perfect, what’s the point?” and “Look at what she made, it’s so much better,” and the thorns pointed at the Gap, made it appear as a yawning abyss and not a natural, inevitable part of the adventure.
Sometimes, the thorns used grades and grants denied and rejection letters to fuel their venom. Strangely, those rarely hurt her as much as the thorns of her own making.
She yet she persisted. Scratched, defiant eyes narrowed in concentration, she made something from nothing.
Sometimes exhausted, she retreated, rested, tried a new way of making.
But she always returned.
She always defied the thorns.
Until one day, after many years, for no reason or a thousand, the thorn’s power grew too great and pinned her to the earth.
Merciless in their insistence, pricking and tearing, chanting, “Give up the writing. Give up the painting. Give up the teaching. Why do you keep trying so hard?”
She couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t think. She lay with her cheek pressed into the earth, panting.
It will be so much easier if you give it up.
Well, it would be, she thought. They have a point. What has all this making and creating and trying gotten me anyway?
With that, a blanket of gloom rolled toward her, made from everything that is the opposite of creating. A lightless blanket of sameness.
She grew sleepy. Just give it up. Why try so hard?
It rolled toward her with its endless flickering Netflix and Facebook and Instagram and books and paintings and beauty, all made by someone else.
And then, as the blanket of sameness was almost upon her and the thorns grew together over her head, through the gloom and the ugly lattice work of her self-made prison, the woman spotted a glimmer.
A girl-shaped flame.
She struggled to raise her head.
It was her, as a child. And she was made completely of color and stories and imagination and devotion. Oh so much pure devotion.
She was flame forged from the pure love of making.
Not for accolades or approval or coins.
The girl’s heart cared less for any of that. She cared only for the challenge, the worlds she would shape and cradle, the butterflies of what if? Fluttering, fluttering in her belly.
She cared only for the making.
And the girl stretched out her hand with a giggle and the woman didn’t hesitate to reach out and take it.
May you always remember this woman and how you cheered for her to never give up,
And then may you cheer for your yourself
As loud and as proud.
And may you always remember your voice matters.