Saturday, December 23, 2006

my own pursuit of happyness

“This part of my story is called: Fear.”

It is 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning and I am wide-awake. Given that I am not usually wide awake until about 9:30, preferably 11:00, I am not sure what to do with myself, let alone the stirring in the pit of my stomach. I rummage around our hotel room for paper and a pen, fortunate to find two measly sheets by the phone, and slip back into my space in the middle of the king-sized bed next to my sleeping husband, pulling the heavy duvet back up over my chilled legs. He moans softly as I turn on the light by my bedside. I begin to write anyway.

It is the writing that has caused this stirring—this inability to enjoy my Saturday morning without children in a bed large enough to have its own zip code. No—perhaps it is the movie that has caused the stirring, but the stirring is about the writing. Whatever the exact source of this tension, I don’t like it—especially when I could be sleeping. Especially when I could remain comfortable. I don’t like to be stirred. Like the meals in my crockpot after a day left alone on low, too much of one thing is stuck to the bottom and too much of another has risen to the surface. Do I stir it all back into the soup, or do I start skimming off the top and avoiding the bottom?

What makes a man with a high school education, barely getting by in his sales job, think he can be a stock broker just because he could go through a math book in a week as a child? What makes a mother of two in the “heart of America” with a zoo membership and a microvan think she has anything to say that could be of relevance to anyone just because a few people told her she could write? Better yet, what makes one act on it, boldly pursuing his dream, while the other sits on the couch at the end of the day staring at her laptop, paralyzed by fear and the excuse of busyness and the mundanity of her life?

In a scene that I overlooked until this early-morning moment of epiphany, Will Smith’s character boldly pitches himself and his product to a CEO way out of his league in the CEO’s private box at a 49ers game and is shot down for his inexperience. The disappointment is clear in his eyes, in the shrug in his shoulders as he leaves later that day, bone density scanner in hand, and walks several blocks to take the bus back to his hotel room from which he is about to be evicted, rendering him homeless. What I first saw in this scene was the failure, the rejection, the disappointment. Then I saw the determination to keep going. But it wasn’t until this morning that I finally saw the big picture.

Will’s character, “Chris,” met that afternoon at the football game several young, up-and-coming businessmen eager to invest in the exploding 80’s market. His pursuit of the big fish had resulted in failure, but in the end it reeled him in a large enough net full of smaller fish to procure him the coveted 1 in 20 position at Dean Whitter, which began his climb to success and wealth. Small fish, big picture. He got it. I haven’t. Yet.

Fear of rejection and a lack of faith in the bigger picture. That is what grips my stomach this morning, robbing me of precious time spent sleeping in. That and the knowledge that I need to either act on it or stop torturing myself with just talking about it. I’m really not too busy to do this—I’m just too chicken. And so it seems, like it or not, God has reached down in his divine wisdom and stirred the pot—all the dreams stuck to the bottom and all the fears skimming the top all mixed back up in one big, delicious scoop. The decision is now mine—do I serve up a dish while it’s ready, or will I inevitably let it settle again?

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