Sunday, May 15, 2011


I have to admit: I am not a big fan of Rascal Flatts. Not usually. Something about their music just doesn’t strike any of the right chords with me, so to speak. But several years ago they released a song called “Stand.” It was one of those songs that just hits where it counts. I remember where I was the first time I heard the song, and now I can recall that day as clearly as if it just happened an hour ago.

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright
You'll be alright

The lyrics spoke to me. Within the span of the song I saw so many things flash through my head. So many people came to mind. There was my mother, my grandmother, my grandfather and my little brother. There was my best friend. There was the man who loved her, the man she lost – the man we all lost. There was the random woman I had met at the grocery store check-out line, the one with so many mouths to feed and not enough money to do it. I thought of so many people who had been through so much.

It became an anthem of sorts. At that time in my life, things were smooth and easy. I was fortunate, and I knew it. But I tucked those words away in the back of my heart, just in case. There would be a day – I knew that for sure, even then – when push came to shove.

‘Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend ‘til you break
‘Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad
You get strong
Wipe your hands
Shake it off
Then you stand

And when push came to shove, it pushed hard. It knocked me off my feet.

This past year has been one of upheaval and change. Not all of it has been good, but I am confident that all of it has been leading me in the right direction. There were times I convinced myself I had it all together, had it all planned out. Then there were times when I felt like those lyrics were written just for me, when they were so pertinent to the moment – times when I was so lost that the only firm ground was the ground itself, and so I was actually on my knees, in the darkness, looking up to see some kind of light.

Life's like a novel
With the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon
With only one way down
Take what you're given
Before its gone
Start holding on
Keep holding on

For every success I have seen over the years, it seemed like there was a parallel and equally large failure. These failures were often personal – it’s funny how a career can go so well while everything behind the scenes is falling apart – but I did what so many do, and put on a brave smile while the walls caved in.

Then there came a day. A night. A moment. A time when I decided I was done.

It was time to shove back.

There was no huge shift in my actions, nor was there a significant change in my daily life. Not at that point. But there was a shift in the atmosphere, a change within me that started to change everything else. Gradually at first, like the ripple effect on a pond, circles that started out small and eventually reached out to touch every part of the shore of my life.

I started writing novels again. It started as a way to get out the emotion, pour myself onto the page, cheaper than any counselor and probably more effective. I started to find the person I used to be, the one before the world took a toll. I started back at the beginning, just like that little girl with an old Royal typewriter, pounding out one line after another and hoping I didn’t make a mistake, because that corrector ribbon always left ink and dust all over my hands.

Every time you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place

The words fell into place. Sometimes it was difficult, the words jumbled, like puzzle pieces that didn’t quite fit. Other times those words fell into place with an almost audible click, so certain and true the aim. There were nights when it was just me and a blank page, staring each other down. Then there were days when the words flowed like water, so fast my hands couldn’t keep up. It was starts and stops, beginnings and endings, forward and back, until I finally found my rhythm. Until I found my place.

Today, I have a better sense of where I am going. The changes are not done yet. They keep coming, like waves rolling in – some small and not much in the grand scheme of things, some larger and more dangerous, some serious movers that lift up sand and shells and driftwood and all the trappings of a life before the swell.

But for the first time in a long while, that’s okay. I no longer fear I might drown.

I found firm ground, and I finally stood up.

No comments: