“But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all? And if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you've been here before? How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” -Bastille
I don’t think it was meant as a criticism, but the words stung a little.
“Usually I have to really dig to find anything new in your messages, but this time I didn’t,” the commenter wrote about a short piece I published on The Hands Free Revolution page.
I write about grasping what really matters in a world of a distraction. I write about seeing the glimmers of goodness amidst the mayhem, mess, and mistakes of everyday life. I have written over 200 blog posts, one book, and I am working on my second book. Sometimes when I write, I find myself asking, “Have I written that somewhere before?” And the answer is yes, in some form or fashion, I probably have. Writing is my instrument for focusing on what really matters. And because the distractions of life never go away, I require daily reminders repeated over and over. To some folks, it probably does begin to feel like a broken record.
But here’s the thing. Every once in awhile, as I am writing about what I write about, something unexpected comes out. Painful personal reflections like the hurry up post, the yelling post, and the bully post that cause tears to come to my eyes. Stories like these cause my hands to shake when I push the ‘publish’ button. That’s when I know someone is out there waiting to read these words. Such moments are my fuel. They say, “Keep writing, Rachel. Even though it’s tedious and repetitive, you just never know when your words are going to intersect with someone who needs them.”
But I am human which means in between those encouraging moments are times of doubt and uncertainty. That’s when I begin to question myself. I think about the criticisms and wonder if I’ve said all there is to say about letting go of distraction to grasp what really matters. I wonder if I’ve run dry. I wonder if my writing gig is up.
But recently, as I was thinking about this painful possibility for myself, I thought of you. I thought to myself, maybe there is something here for all of us. Maybe it will even make one person cry with me today.
Life On Repeat
Teacher, do you tire of Circle Time? Do you feel like you review the same rules over and over and over? Do you sound out the same words, show the same spelling patterns, and answer the same questions year after year? I imagine you do.
Nurse, do you tire of taking vitals and bodily fluids? Do you see the same health issues day in and day out? Do you feel like you walk the same halls, administer the same doses, and whisper the same assurances? I suspect that you do.
Mail Carrier, do you tire of damaged packages and insufficient postage? Do ever long to open a new mailbox? Do wish you could personally deliver the handwritten notes to actual people and see their joy? I have a sneaking suspicion you do.
Cashier, do you tire of slow conveyor belts, unorganized coupons, and unsmiling customers? Do your feet ache from standing in the same place at the same time each and every day? Do you hear the same bubblegum battle between parents and children day in and day out? I am pretty sure that you do.
Parent, do you tire of grumpy small people, missing shoes, and that dreaded question: what’s for dinner? Do you wipe the same noses, pick up the same wet towels, diffuse the same sibling squabbles day in and day out? I know that you do.
Musician, do you tire of bad song requests, calloused fingers, and lack of appreciation? Do you long for a new crowd, a new venue, a new stool to prop your foot on? Do get sick of wondering if this dream is going anywhere? I suppose that you do.
But here’s the thing. You just never know when you’ll be in the middle of that redundant message, task, or duty and suddenly something will happen, letting you know this time is different.
That song you’ve longed to write appears before you …
That patient turns the corner …
That kindergartener begins to read …
That woman weeps when you hand her a long-awaited letter from a military base …
That customer needs that unexpected smile …
That grown child says, “Thanks, Mom and Dad. You are the reason I made it through.”
And then suddenly your Life on Repeat is someone’s divine sign … someone’s lifesaver … someone’s second chance … someone’s voice of an angel … someone’s silver lining … someone’s hope is not lost.
As you know, you cannot predict when that day will come. It could be a slow Tuesday morning. It could be a rainy Friday afternoon when the traffic is really bad. It could be the day after a rough night of sleep. It could be when you are about to throw in the towel. Yes, it could be that day.
So I beg you to carry on.
Burp that baby for the 900th time.
Shine those windows like a boss.
Lift your voice from the back row of the choir for the whole world to hear.
Write until you can write no more.
These are the redundant actions of an everyday hero.
And today just might be the day your life’s message intersects with a heart longing for the message only YOU can deliver.
So please, I beg you, carry on.
I am grateful each time someone takes a moment to leave his or her thoughts and opinions in the comment section of my blog and/or Facebook page, even when those views are different from my own, even when the words sting. Considering things from other people’s perspective has helped me grow as a writer and as a human being. Thank you for allowing me to be a work-in-progress. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for helping my book, Hands Free Mama, hit the New York Times Bestseller List for the third time when I was taking an online break this summer. I could not spread the Hands Free message without you. I would love to hear your stories & experiences about your Life on Repeat in the comment section. And if you think someone could benefit from this message today, I’d be grateful if you share it.
*I feel it is only appropriate to leave you with several writers who are changing the way the world thinks, heals, flourishes, and overcomes. These are some of my everyday heroes and their life-changing messages:
Don Blackwell – I’m Pretty Sure 56 Years Is Long Enough to Wait
Kristin VanderHey Shaw – More Than Words
Emily Wierenga – Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look