Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Gift of Meeting Face-to-Face

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one ..." 
- C.S. Lewis, British Scholar and Novelist 1898-1963

Photo of me and my great literary agent, Chip MacGregor, at ACFW. Thanks to Susan Meissner for the photo!
Last week, I had the amazing privilege of attending the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. On so many levels, I loved being there, with 650 other great people in the world of writing fiction. Somehow, in the combination of writers and editors and agents and publishers all gathered in one location, synergy happened. And the resulting energy was contagious. There, together, over coffees and classes and sunshine and meals, meaningful conversations happened about books and the words that define them like theme and voice and dialogue and character. 

There aren't many ways for this writer to say how wonderful it was to be there, but it was an incredible experience. Now, back in Prague as I unpack and allow conversations and new friends to seep into my thoughts, I return to the great gift in being with like-minded people. We meet, and click, and our lives are changed for the better. A gift.

Though the internet is a powerful force in connecting people, meeting in person allows the live energy between people to flow, for those present to shine and show their depth and colors, and to truly connect. Again, a gift.

So, as I reflect on my writer's conference experience, I want to thank all the people who made the time possible for me, to thank my family for their unending support. And to the many friends who made the time in the USA a rich experience full of laughter and stories -- thank you! All gift. 

Truly, time face-to-face with dear friends is one of the greatest gifts in life. I'm so very grateful.

Starting the conversation: When are times you feel the richest? Time with friends and family? 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Entering the Arena

It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena ... who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America

A steep mountain to climb

A few years ago, I remember when our oldest son stood about so-high (a little over waist height for my nearly 6-foot-frame) and we visited a popular amusement park as a family. We started the day over in the kiddie-land, which is always filled with double strollers, moms in high jeans, dads wearing stuffed backpacks, and kids running in every direction usually sucking pacifiers or lollipops, depending on the age. Kiddie-land at every amusement park seems to be a place of fleeting laughter and wailing kids, not understanding why their tilt-a-whirl ride ended so soon.

So when our oldest son, probably 6 at the time, asked to ride a "big" roller coaster, my husband and I eyed each other, raised eyebrows, and followed his lead.

It turns out we ended up ogling one of the largest roller coasters on the premises-- I'll call it the "Grand Shoot-Em-Up Loop-D-Loop." Again, our oldest son pointed, and my husband, pushing the double stroller with our other two sons, raised his eyebrows again. And since he measured above the height requirement line, we had no argument left. He had big dreams. And we weren't about to stop him.

Off we went, my oldest and me, to stand in an hour-long line while I contemplated whether I could stomach the ride ...

Isn't it a gift when we know what our goals are, and where we want to go with our days, years, and lives? When we do find those things in everyday life--those things that make us tick, the essence of our hopes and dreams--it's important not to settle for less, for the pacifier crowd in the wailing kiddie-land. But to stretch ourselves to pursue wholeheartedly following our dreams.

When we do, we enter the ring. We walk into the arena. With all of those who dare to live, to dream big, and to pursue that vision regardless of the daunts from the bully called failure. Because after the giant roller coaster, we may know the thrill of having stepped up to the challenge and laughed all the way back down to solid ground.

This week, I'm in the US, in the Heartland, at a national fiction conference, learning and meeting new people who share my love for writing and fiction. What a great place to be! So very grateful to have the opportunity, and so thankful for my family and so many friends supporting me on the journey. Here's to entering the arena ... and to the adventure always found in a life well lived.

Starting the conversation: What giant roller-coaster-type dreams do you have? How can you move toward fulfilling those dreams?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reflections of Summer

"The sole art that suits me is that which, rising from unrest, tends toward serenity."   -Andre Gide, French writer, 1947 Nobel Prize for Literature

This summer truly was the best of my entire life. We traveled, we played, we splashed and rode bikes and hiked, and simply enjoyed being alive, as a family, in a foreign country. But, as every mom of energetic children knows, summer is also a time of noise and exuberance, and requires extra energy and patience to actually be able to enjoy it. Yes, now my boys are back in school, tucked into their routines, and now I have a little time for quiet. And I enjoy that, too ...

If time could be like a stretch of water, then my summer is like the photograph above, taken in Croatia a few months ago: rich with color, rippled with a summer breeze, and brightened by a shimmering sky.

Some days, the water characterizing my life looks like this photograph, above, taken of the crashing waves at the Portland (Maine) Head Light: turbulent, frothing, and spilling over with energy. On those tumultuous times of life, being creative and writing is almost impossible, because of the storms. But those times where our emotions are stirred and we are being stretched (also like the top photo, where life is colorful and brave), we are filled with new experiences and can tap into them later ...

... Like on days with this photograph, of a single rowboat tethered in Maine, bobbing along an alluring blue sea. This is the place where creativity happens: in stillness. In the refuge from the storms, stirred up by life's emotions, but with a clear surface that reflects life's real experiences into our art and creative works. This is where the richness begins ...

... And develops with much coaxing and revision and editing, into a work of beauty, reflecting something intangible yet irresistible with a fresh perspective on something as old as time. Words on paper, oils on canvas, images captured through a lens: spaces of art and beauty and meaning to share. There, in the serenity, we can see the reflection of something deeper, something bigger and greater than the surface, and can be inspired for more of an adventure-filled life.

Starting the conversation: What was your summer like? What are your ideal conditions for living and life and creating?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Vienna, U2, and OneRepublic

 "We're waking up ... And right on time." -OneRepublic, Waking Up

On Monday, the King five drove the windy Czech roads and ventured down in Austria. This wasn't just any trip. Our destination was Vienna, the legendary city of music of the ranks of Mozart, to a concert we bought tickets for almost exactly one year ago. This wasn't just any concert. The music we have been anticipating seeing live in concert is the music of the legendary band, U2.

And, oh! was it a CONCERT!

There are not many words to wrap around the fullness of the sound, the incredible heart-shaking bass, or the soul-flying energy and spirit to a crowd gathered around one of the music of U2-- all 68,500 Austrians, and the five of us Kings. The whole time was truly the experience of a lifetime. So grateful to have had it.

But I want to mention the band who opened for U2, a new-ish band called OneRepublic. It turns out that their music is familiar, and before the concert I dove into their band bio to learn a little more. Ryan Tedder, OneRepublic's frontman, says this, after he had performed on a singer/songwriter show on MTV and was given a prestigious recording contract, singing "POP" music:

"But how could I ever take myself seriously," he says, "if I was embarrassed by what I was singing? There are a lot of artists who want to make you shake your ass on the dance floor, but only a handful that connect on a deeper level. I wanted more than just a catchy tune. There's nothing like a good pop song, but there's a fine line between accessibility and credibility, and that's the line I want to walk."

When at the concert, and Tedder said, "This is a lifelong dream come true," about playing with U2. And when he mentioned they'd only seen U2 play once before, live, it began to make sense. This OneRepublic band, of amazing musical depth (violin, cello, 3 guitars, bass, keyboard, drums, etc.), has arrived at their dream only by remaining true to who they are. Not selling out for the popular music of little depth, not settling for something less than what they've dreamed. They stuck out the wait, and sharpened their skills, and practiced, and worked some more before their time came to sing. And sing and make music, they do.

I was deeply moved by their story, and by their music, and look forward to hearing more of them (live!) in the future. Oh, and to hold on to dreams ... they will come true, with hard work and patience, in time.

Starting the conversation: What is your favorite live musical performance? Has it changed you?