Why did I stop writing? It felt forced. There was too much to say. I didn't know how to explain. I couldn't keep going on as I had when I was no longer as I was.
Why have I waited so long to come back? The longer I waited, the more there was to say. But, a huge part of it is that I've mostly outgrown the need for digital validation. I've been content to share what I had to share with individuals instead of casting it out into the universe for all to see and laud. But, that doesn't quite explain it, either.
For reasons unknown, there's been a lot of talk of ladders in my life lately. Drew wrote a ladder flirting scene into Invincible ("Don't say anything. It will only escalate!"). Someone shared with me a metaphor about ladders and dating. And then, just when I needed it most, someone quoted a Longfellow poem. I've never been able to resist a good poem, so I found the rest of it.
Every once in a while, we stumble across something that, in that moment, is relevant to us in every conceivable way (and some inconceivable). Yesterday, last night, as though guided by the hand of God (and I think maybe he was), an old friend reached out to me. And then he quoted this:
"The Ladder of St. Augustine" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!
All common things, each day's events,
That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend.
The low desire, the base design,
That makes another's virtues less;
The revel of the ruddy wine,
And all occasions of excess;
The longing for ignoble things;
The strife for triumph more than truth;
The hardening of the heart, that brings
Irreverence for the dreams of youth;
All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill;
Whatever hinders or impedes
The action of the nobler will; —
All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain
In the bright fields of fair renown
The right of eminent domain.
We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.
The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern — unseen before —
A path to higher destinies,
Nor doom the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
That's why I haven't written. I've started to. I've started writing posts about waltzing, love, depression, Helm's Deep, my college graduation, linguistics, and texting. I've begun a dozen deep, thoughtful metaphors with no expiration date and no pressure to finish them before they became irrelevant. With each, I got busy, or I just didn't feel like writing, and by the time I came back to them, they just didn't seem to matter so much anymore. By the time I came back to them, I was seeing them with different eyes.
Over the past year, I have been in the midst of the most extreme metamorphosis I have undergone in my 22 years of life. Maybe it's been longer than that. That's the funny thing about change: there's no telling just where the end or the beginning is. I feel like a new person every month, every week, sometimes every day.
Sometimes, the change has been exultant; I felt like a meteor hurtling through space. Other times, the change has been torturous; I was dragging myself up a mountain with my bare hands.
And I'm not done.
With graduation have come a lot of questions about what I'm going to do with my life. Everyone wants to know what job I'm going to get. That's not what matters to me. I know exactly what I'm going to do with my life: I'm going to serve God. I'm going to continue growing into what he wants me to be. I'm going to keep climbing higher. He is more important to me than anything. What I want most is to have a family and to do His will. Neither is very lucrative, but lucre is such a trivial thing.
My God has always been the most important thing to me. I love Him. I trust Him. And He's going to take care of me.
As C.S. Lewis wrote, "Further up and further in!"*
*It really should be "farther," but it's no good editing quotes.