There’s a quiet, poignant scene at the beginning of Eat Pray Love, where Liz Gilbert reads a line from a Louise Gluck poem: “From the center of my life, there came a great fountain…”
This is what I think of when I go for daily walks with Baby Girl. Each morning, we set out with the stroller. On our way home, I steer us toward the fountain downtown. The closer we get, the more attentive Baby Girl becomes.
We circle the perimeter, and her eyes go wide. I can only imagine what she’s thinking, what it feels like for her to see all of that leaping, rushing water. It probably seems like a great mystery, a profound wonder, an inexplicable gift.
I can relate because that’s how I feel when I see her face.
She looks at the water, and I look at her.
You see, our Baby Girl was a long time coming. We – I – went through a lot to welcome her into the world. There were times when it seemed impossible. When the odds seemed stacked against it. When the pain was almost too much to bear.
I’m not superstitious, but I longed for her so much that I would throw pennies into that downtown fountain. It became a regular ritual, one I kept quiet from the world.
Each time I would close my eyes for just a moment and think: Little one, I wish that someday we will walk by this fountain together.
And then I would go home and handle the latest hurdle in the way of that beautiful dream.
Sometimes I felt like I was crazy to keep wishing and walking past that fountain.
Do you know what that’s like?
To long for something that seems so far out of reach, and to be so bold as to take action on that longing?
If you do, then you know that it isn’t easy. To do as Rilke advises – to “go to the limits of your longing” – that is a tall order.
And also: It is a sacred task.
To long for something that doesn’t exist yet takes faith. It takes courage, to let yourself be vulnerable and admit: Yes, I actually DO want what I want. Some wild, tenacious part of me believes that it’s meant to be mine.
Yes, even in this incredibly challenging time, even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Perhaps especially now.
When none of us know what the future holds or how much time we have – how very important it is to be honest with yourself.
To acknowledge that yes, some part of you believes that you really COULD live that dream. (Speak on that stage. Write that book. Start that business. Become that confident version of yourself.)
What I want to recommend to you today is: Listen. Listen to that stubborn, hopeful, relentless part of you.
And then: Take a step in the direction you most long to go. Put feet to your prayers.
That’s what I was doing, back in the day when I threw pennies in the fountain. I wished, yes, and then I took massive action.
I hoped, and then I fought like hell.
I work with women who are brave enough to do that. As a coach, I help them on their journey to become who they’ve always wanted to be.
See, I believe that the part of you that hopes and wishes is actually Future You, calling Present You forward.
Future You wants to exist, so she calls out to Present You in the form of longing.
At the end of Eat Pray Love, Liz writes about this idea:
“The younger me was the acorn full of potential, but it was the older me, the already-existent oak, who was saying the whole time- ‘Yes – grow! Change! Evolve! Come and meet me here, where I already exist in wholeness and maturity! I need you to grow into me!’”
To you and your becoming,
Caroline Garnet McGraw is the author of You Don’t Owe Anyone: Free Yourself from the Weight of Expectations (Broadleaf Books, 2021). Read the first chapter for free and start living your life without apology.
Image courtesy of Matheus Henrin.