Stepping Off The Cliff


Yesterday the tractor trailer arrived at the house with my shipment of two thousand copies of my book, The Sea is Wide: A Memoir of Caregiving. Two pallets filled with a total of one hundred boxes. Weighing in at a little over two thousand three hundred pounds, we comfortably passed the one ton mark. A ton of books paid for by the Pubslush campaign with its many generous contributors. In a way, all of this was probably the most tangible sign of the culmination of years of work, and the visible marker of the cliff I am about to step off.

So much had to happen to reach this point, and there is so much more that needs to be done. I spent a good part of today clearing out the storage area in the study that would hold all the book boxes, and then carrying the (literal) ton of books, three boxes at a time, up the stairs. That sounds like an awful lot of carrying, but I still feel pretty good after all of that. The project was much less intimidating than all the things I have been through so far in the publishing process, and all that is still yet to come.

People ask me if I am excited. I don’t know. If I was a little kid I definitely would feel wildly, deliriously, excited. But being a kid means you are much less able to grasp all the future responsibilities looming over you, its a lot harder to realize in youth how much reality will not match expectations. Now, I find it hard to feel very excited. The requirements of being productive and practical, and to reasonably analyze future events all combines to impinge on my indulging of giddy excitement. If at some point in this summer it becomes resounding clearly that this whole process was a success beyond my wildest imaginations–then I might let out a big whoop. But right now, as the publisher, promoter, and author of my book I have so many things on my mind–worries, things that need to be done, remembered, and prepared for–I mostly feel worn out all the time. It is hard to feel excited when your mind is bursting with responsibilities and you’re trying to brace yourself for all the possible problems you’ve thought of (or failed to think of). It is hard to make time for feeling excited in the midst of all of that.

I probably would have more time for feeling excited if I was being published by some mega corporation which was also handling my publicity and travel itinerary. Then I could just kick back in my chauffeured car and let myself feel excitement. But since that isn’t happening my mind is mostly filled with all the things I am late on doing, or failed to do, or didn’t do as well as I wanted.

I am trying to learn to be kind to myself. This is the first time I have done such a major launch of a book, the first time I have ever gone on tour. I will be green. It will be a learning experience. I will make mistakes. Things won’t go as well as the could. And that is okay. Don’t be the fool who five years down the road is stewing over that one event that wasn’t publicized as well as it could have been and thinks that is the reason the book was a failure.

But I’m having a hard time emotionally convincing myself. I know that is important to have perspective, and to weigh things rightly. Yet in the moment when everything is building up it is hard to see that. I’ll just end up drowning in some swamp of self-loathing if I don’t learn to embrace the experience for what it is, laugh at my flubs, and just continue on.

Publication day is this coming Wednesday. I am in the last week of counting down. Have I done all the preparation I need to do? Will my mind blank out the moment I stand up in front of everyone? Panic, panic. Wednesday and Thursday are the first two speaking events. How can I possibly do it well? It is the strangest feeling of being utterly confident that I have important and worthwhile things to say and simultaneously not being able to imagine myself doing it well. The stuttering, stammering, word fumbler preparing to go speak in front of the world? How did I get here. You know, I wrote a fictional book about this years ago as a wry commentary to myself. Seems I wasn’t paying attention to my own advice.

Where I am now is a peculiar place. I feel like I have just leaped off a clip in the midst of a dense fog and I am now, for the shortest of moments, suspended in mid air–seemingly floating, maybe flying, but in the next second gravity is going to grab me and I will start hurtling downward in a heart stopping way.

This is the last moment before the adventure starts. The decision to go has been made, there is no turning back, but in these last few moments, in this handful of days, the adventure hasn’t actually started yet. I have gone out of what was before and for just this breath of time I haven’t yet entered into what is to come. There won’t be another time like this.

It is in this time between that I seek to remember how faithful God is. After something is over it is easy to say how God was faithful. But to say now that God is faithful and will be faithful as I embark on this publishing journey, to be truly comforted in this moment of suspended-in-air that all shall be well–that is something else.

What does it mean to go out joyfully?

As I think about these little in-between moments in our lives I am reminded of how they are pictures for what our whole life is like. Once this present life is over there will be no more trusting that God is faithful. There will be no more place for rejoicing in the midst of not seeing, not yet experiencing. For once we step out of this mortal life we will know fully.

And so I am reminded of how it is a privilege to walk in these suspended places where what is to be is not yet known. We have been given the place to trust–whether it be in matters of books and speaking, or life, health, and the soul.

So I will stop here now, in this suspended moment where I am off the cliff and in the air and be still in this moment being sure to know that whether I fall or fly, the wings and the catching will surely come from the One who has always known me and will never fail.

I am not ready for this path, nor am I able to make it work. But even so, I can say all will be well, and be glad I have been given this time to experience its truth in the days I have been given.

Complete stack of books

4 thoughts on “Stepping Off The Cliff

  1. cynthia

    Go forth in God’s grace. We have all stepped off the cliff. Some of us just haven’t realized it yet! But He is the God who sees you and will uphold you! 😉

  2. Marie O'Keefe

    “I have important and worthwhile things to say…” That’s the key element.

  3. veronicahrose

    It’s exciting to me that you can finally see the beginning fruits of your work. But, of course, I don’t have to deal with the responsibility. I hope God blesses your ventures…your speaking, your travels. Stories worth telling tend to strike a chord, I think, so I believe you can rest some in that your story will speak for itself to a point. It is a poignant journey.

    1. Thief Post author

      Thank you all for your comments. I’m a little late in responding because of my first adventures. Veronicah, your comment pretty will captures the situation. My story is very strong, as you say (and as I have seen in the reactions already) and so it does speak without me really needing to add anything. (If you get what I am saying.) The problem is that I do feel the responsibility, and I am hard on myself.

      It is good to feel the responsibility because I am speaking to a very raw place in many people’s lives and I should not do so lightly, or thoughtlessly. But I do need to let go of the perfectionism, and I have a hard time with that.

      Well, learning is part of the journey and that is one of the many things I need to work on learning.

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