Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#trust30 - Day 13: Surprise Yourself

Surprise by Ashley Ambirge

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself. How will you surprise yourself this week?

(Author: Ashley Ambirge)

This happens more and more as I grow older. When I was a kid, there was nothing I couldn't do with just a little more effort, and even if it turned out I couldn't, I could make excuses for the failure--or just ignore it as if it hadn't happened.

As I grew older and the price of failure seemed greater, I started wondering whether, in fact, I could accomplish the things that seemed too hard. And something changed: gradually, I stopped telling myself I can do it and started believing that little voice that says no, you can't. That's when the cringing started. It was easier to stay where it was safe than to take a chance.

A friend of mine had a big hand in changing that. A couple of years ago, he and his family were vacationing with us at my parents' cabin in Colorado. It sits at 8,200 feet; hike a mile or two up the trail and you can see the Continental Divide. And my friend, a triathlete, asked me if I'd ever been up to the Divide.

Of course, I hadn't. It was too far, or I didn't have the right equipment, or there was nobody there who could go with me, or it would take too much time, or any number of excuses. The truth was I wasn't sure I could do it, so I didn't try.

Well, let's go, he said. And those three words stripped away my excuses and asked me to look at the challenge from a whole different angle. Not It's too hard, I can't, but Maybe I can. And even if I couldn't, why not find out how far I could get?

To make a long story longer, we went. And we made it--not to our stretch goal, which was Summit Peak, three miles past the Divide and two thousand feet higher--but to the Divide itself, twelve and a half thousand feet up and nine and a half miles from the cabin. And back. In a day.

I suppose some would count that a failure. I did not. I do not. That was the day I remembered how to dare.

So this week, I'm headed to San Diego with my family to attend the HNS Conference. Three hundred writers, agents, and editors, all passionate about writing or publishing historical fiction, many of them already published or working in the industry.

What business do you have being in the same room with the likes of Diana Gabaldon and Harry Turtledove and Margaret George? the little voice asks.

Simple. I am passionate about writing, about history, about sharing stories. Just like they are. Just like they were years ago when they started. And years from now--I don't know how many--I mean to be where they are now.

Can I do it? I'll find out one day at a time, one step at a time, one word at a time. Just like my friend and I climbed nine and a half miles to the Continental Divide.

I don't remember if I ever thanked you for that, friend. But thank you. Your three words changed my life.


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