I wrote the following a few days ago:
"The rain is coming down hard, straight to the ground without wind, and I’m baking bread because it just needs to be baked, on a day like this. A man just walked by holding a large leaf over his head. And a few minutes ago Isaac sat in my lap, wiggled around a bit to get comfortable, and said, “I have a little nest. I’m a chicken.”
“Are you?” I asked, squeezing him tight.
He turned his head to look up at me. “You’re my nest. Nests don’t talk.”
I sat quietly, still rocking a bit, until he turned around again and said, “Nests don’t move, either.”
Days like this, I thought. I want some like this."
I was reading an article recently about crafting a writing career and it was asking about what I want in ten years. And I thought it was a good question, but in a totally different way from maybe the way the question was meant. I think the original writer meant you should figure out how many books you want to write, how you want to publish them, and how often. These are good questions.
But I have this driving question lately, about what makes a good life. And since I have finished and published a few books, what I know about finishing and publishing books is that it doesn’t really do anything. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s AWESOME and I get a little thrill every single time someone tells me that they read my book. (Every time. Like a dork.) But accomplishments don’t seem to have an effect on how you feel about life and yourself. You don’t keep them, if that makes any sense. As though your brain can’t store them. They’re not everyday things, not the things that get you through August 12th and February 2nd and June 10th. (Those are just random dates.) They slide on by and you’re already feeling like you need to accomplish something else, and the days keep coming.
So what are the everyday things that matter? When I think of myself in 10 years, I think of the practices and rhythms of life. What are the values, the patterns and points of light that I want my life to include in 10 years? And if I know that, can I reverse engineer the next ten years? If something won’t matter then, can I drop it now? (The answer is sometimes.)
Here are some of mine.
* I want a writing practice that includes both fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction to record, understand, reframe, and treasure my life, and share that with others, and fiction because I have to. (Also to share, always to share.)
* I want a rhythm of visual art in my life that grows and changes.
* In ten years I will have one child under eighteen. (I’m about to start crying right now.) I want them to be well loved and well launched, with bright futures, meaningful relationships with God and people, and long-lasting relationships with Chinua and I. I also want Isaac to be a good sailor, so he can sail Chinua and I around the world when we feel like a little jaunt to Turkey. (Little joke. Sort of.)
* I want a home that is bright with creativity and hospitality—in my mind these have emerged as themes of our family. You are welcome come over for dinner and there will also be an eight-year-old playing a trumpet. I want to help people on their path toward God and do that often and well in my home.
* I want to help foster a thriving community that encourages love, devotion, learning, and experience of Jesus for people on every point of the path that ultimately leads to oneness with Him.
* I want to be a good friend. I want this so bad. To live in love in my community every day. To pursue God and be strong in love through suffering. To be an encourager.
* I want to have the means to help my kids, help the people in my family who may need it in the future, to travel, to give, to live well but simply.
* I want love and friendship and adventure and romance in my marriage.
* I want health, strength, flexibility and the ability to run or climb mountains.
That’s about it.
But when I think of it this way, I see that the future is actually now. These are all things I can immerse myself in now. Developing good habits, working through issues so I can be a good friend, writing, painting, walking, praying, continuing to ask God to form humility and love in me. It’s also interesting to me to note that I want to launch the kids well, and that means a lot of time with them during this next season. But it’s a huge part of what I want to see in ten years! So every little paper that I have to push them to write, or the moments I spend reading to them, or the time I take teaching them to cook? They all matter.
Here I have this day in front of me and the rain is coming down again. I can be open to this day now, and all that it is growing in me. And that is good, and that is enough.