Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”
“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Things are happening, friends. I can’t say just what yet; the chickens aren’t hatched—but they are pecking mightily. There have been some heady phone calls and emails and talk of big things to come. It’s been gratifying and exhilarating—and nerve-racking.
On that front, I’ve had two good bits of advice. I called my sister in a slight tizzy over the uncertainty of it all—the possibly big-exciting-it’s-about-time things still up in the air. Her counsel was to soak it in, enjoy the anticipation of the moment before. This particular moment before may not come again, she said, so take pleasure in it now.
The other piece of advice was from one of my oldest friends. I was saying to him how surreal everything felt, that I couldn’t believe what was happening. And he was like, nope. Believe in it. Banish the voice that says this can’t be happening to me, because it can and it is, and it’s because you’ve worked your ass off. Step into it.
It reminded me of a trip I took to Cannon Beach, Oregon, a preposterously beautiful place. I stayed in a B&B run by a lovely woman named Betty who fed me warm cookies and lemonade every afternoon and pancakes garnished with nasturtiums for breakfast. I was there for a weeklong writing workshop taught by an author whose work I adored. Mornings I spent in the workshop, evenings I wrote and in the afternoons between, I poked among the Haystack rock tidal pools with their brilliant starfish and anemones and hiked up into the woods lush with Sitka spruce, hemlock and magnificent, prehistoric-looking ferns. One afternoon I was hiking through woods where I swear the ferns had been growing since before Jesus walked the earth, and I came through a break in the trees and there were the bluffs crashing down to the sea below that stretched out to Japan. Or maybe Russia. I kept spontaneously exclaiming, unbelievable, because it was just astonishing. But then I thought better of it. It wasn’t unbelievable. Or it shouldn’t be. It was right in front of my eyes, surrounding me on every side. So I switched to thank you instead. Thank you Sitka spruce and dirt and ferns and sky. Thank you legs, eyes and skin. I believe in this.
There are a couple chapters in The Saltwater Twin that investigate belief. One appears this spring in Hayden’s Ferry Review. It’s about growing up Catholic, losing faith as a young adult and the search for something to replace that faith. Belief seems to be my task for the moment: believing in this work, this path. I’ll just say thank you, then—for nasturtiums and pancakes and tidal pools, for good advice and majestic vistas and for the fruits of hard labor.