But sometimes when I get lost in the work, I start to doubt. When that happens, I re-tell myself this story:
The Day I Got Lost started off with my mom taking me to the playground. I invited the other kids to play some epic make-believe game I’d sketched out in my head. They all refused, implying that nobody in their right mind wanted to play make-believe when there was a perfectly real sandbox to get dirty in. Every other day before I had gone the way of the crowd like a lemming. But that day I went off in an entirely different direction, because I decided to chase after the magic princess I saw walking down the street.
She had a gorgeous pink gown, and a pointed good-witch-since-it-was-pink hat, tipped with a flowing, glittering scarf. I did what any sane six year old would do: I followed that princess into the building across the street. Inside I saw - even more amazing - a prince, and several knights with swords at their hips. They escorted my princess through a tall, swinging door. Of course, I snuck in behind them. The room was pitch black and I was SO afraid of the dark. But I reasoned that I had followed magic in there, so even if I couldn’t see it, this was where magic was going to happen. I bravely reached out into the dark and discovered seats, covered with velvet, the way princess chairs should be. I climbed into my throne and waited. An invisible, deep, wizard-like voice called out a spell and a light appeared. I was still in darkness, but in the distance there was an illuminated platform where the perfect, pink princess was standing. Those lights were pointed straight at her, as if God was telling me precisely where to look.
My amazing adventure was interrupted by my hysterical mother calling my name and lights flooding the entire room. The princess shaded her eyes to stare out at me. I pointed up at her and said to my mother: “Look what I found!”
“Found?” she shook her head and almost strangled me with a hug. “No, Jodi. You were lost.”
Back at home, after my scolding and hugs and many thanks to the people who had searched for me, Mom called what I had seen, ‘a play’. She explained that some special adults got to play for a living if they had a good enough story and knew how to make other people believe.
When I start to doubt that I have either of those things, it’s usually because I can’t see where it’s all going. Wandering off the well-lit path to follow a glittering fantasy into the dark isn’t safe. But if you believe you are being led by magic, you trust that where you are is where magic will happen. So I remember this true story. I recall how, Once Upon A Time I was not afraid to be lost, and then, as I pick up my pen to play, I revel in my search to find magic again, and again, and again.