The water from the pool sparkled beneath the hot Arizona sun. Standing above it on a 12 foot dive I debated the wisdom in attempting a plunge headlong from such a point. Sucking in a large breath I bounced once and launched forward. Timing and trajectory miscalculated, I flopped. In the second between the sinking feeling in my stomach and sheer panic I could only rationalize one thought. Bad call! My latest approach to the transition from solitary writing to posting on an online blog feels oddly familiar in that way.
I am, after all, a prolific if not somewhat disorganized writer. Bits and pieces of my life and the moments that have made a dramatic impact on it almost always make their way to the page. It didn’t feel like such a jump to do the same thing on an online platform sharing my experiences with the digital world. Except that it was. Like showing up in public half-dressed I felt suddenly and uncomfortably exposed.
I have come to realize there is a certain security in the familiar. I type on my laptop, and more recently on a 1953 Smith-Corona manual typewriter, just to keep it cool. The sounds of the keys bring a monotonous calm and solitude for thought. On the page it is me and my world. An online worldwide version pushes well out of that comfort zone. In seeking to keep the public version more comfortably private I gave myself a pen name, Eli Mac. There is a certain bit of anonymity that I enjoy in that. Even then I questioned the wisdom of sharing beyond close friends and family the personal nature of my stories, many central to my faith and significant moments in life. With family and friends it is familiar, and safe, and cozy. I like it there. No one challenges me. Yet without challenge, how then can I expect to grow?
Now that I have taken the leap into blogging and built a site, I am looking down on it to discover the waters are much wider and deeper than I had thought. The words I write will be read and critiqued by those with access to the global website. Once out there they cannot be taken back. Unlike my shredder, the words can only be assumed gone but may resurface in a fluke of random code. When I pulled it up this morning and my site stared back at me on the screen I froze. It was one of those moments where I could feel every heart beat and count it accurately as it pounded in my ears. Even under the assumed name, my veil of comfort was gone. I was exposed.
What I have come to realize about this fearful reaction is that the possibility of writing to the online world risks the painful reality of rejection and ridicule. I share in this collective site and digital universe with minds so complex and capable and articulate that I shrink back in intimidation. What if I don’t measure up? What if I sound stupid? What if…I get over it and give it my best shot? I think that is what I have learned through this most recent panic attack. Life is always going to throw curve balls at me. Am I going to duck and cover my head with my hands so I don’t get hit or am I going to grab my bat and swing as hard as I can? Sure, I fully admit the risk of humiliation and judgment. It scares me to death. However, I also believe in a God who does not call me to be fearful. One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9. I need to remember this. Repeat it. Make it my daily mission. And no, I will not quote it. I want you to look it up. You’re welcome.
So I submitted my first piece to “The Dirt Road” on WordPress. Terrified? Absolutely. But I am now bounding off that ledge into the water with arms wide open. I am standing at the plate staring down the pitch and watching that ball fly forward. Will I flop? Will I strike out? Maybe. Will I find the waters turbulent and uncharted and the crack of the bat uncomfortably sharp? Probably. Boldly I go forward with this anyway because God has not called me to lead a boring life. He has called me to step forward and take the risk, and feel the hurt, and revel in the joy. He has called me to live this life and follow it in the direction He guides. With sweaty palms I clicked on the word “publish.” Batter up….swing!