Some sort of shove from the Divine lured me to sprint down to the corner store and purchase a pail of chalk before beginning the climb.
An untouchable feeling webbed in my stomach as I pulled a stick of white chunky chalk from the pail and abandoned the rest at the foot of the trail.
Hiking. Moving. Upwards.
I climbed furiously that day, my single piece of chalk tucked into the waistband of my running shorts.
And there, at the top, I sat. Breathed. And began to write a story on the rock that sat pulsing beneath me remembering a time when this was the daily ritual. When life was not getting somewhere I needed to be or climbing ladders, life was about making any kind of space or time to write my dreams out loud.
I should have prefaced this story by saying that I don’t normally set out mountain climbing with chalk tucked into my side but that I did once have a wild obsession with sidewalk chalk and driveways. To me, the two were practically a married couple or at least bound by common law. And I was their chalky offspring.
Either my real father is the chimney sweeper from Mary Poppins or God coated my DNA with a serious layer of chalk dust. If I were floundering in the awkward body of a 12 year old today, I’d still want to make out with my driveway more than Justin Bieber.
And, if I had my way as a child, I would have never been forced to frolic through sprinklers with other sticky children. I’d have tromped around in my Tinkerbelle costume, being the J.D. Salinger that I really was on the inside. Speaking to no one. Playing out my Romeo & Juliet love affair with my driveway.
Up with the sun, I was a second grader, already tortured by the heartbreak that comes with being a writer, heading out to the driveway to write stories before the school bus arrived. Chalk Girl. Donning a jumper stained with blue and yellow dust.
To me, the driveway was not a spot for cars. Not a place for engines to leak their oil on my canvas. The driveway was a grand landscape. A surface of potential. A chance to write, scribble, and form a holy matrimony between my hymns and concrete.
For the second I drew my very first lines I knew that letting my stories and deepest desires skitter was a way to tell the world that I was coming. That I was hitching up my dreams to stars like horses to wagons and I was coming. That my footsteps were loud. That my longing to live and inject humanity into every space I encountered was fierce.
I’ve stopped to ask myself lately where that magic slips to, where that eagerness goes… that steady source of eagerness to greet the Sun and his Golden Ray Top Hat and translate ordinary moments into sacred stories. It has been a very long time since I spread my arms and legs out wide to give space to the vision of who I want to become one day. I am happy. Full. Working. Blessed. But lordie, lordie, I am still a caterpillar who needs that cocoon like water.
A long time since I allowed my dreams and desires to poke their heads out from beneath the piles of work to be Written. Scripted. Solidified. Or simply asked for out loud.
I think I have the excuse right here: we get older and it becomes harder to declare our childhood dreams or write our passions out into the world with big Yellow Chalk. Or, we grow more apprehensive towards getting down on all fours and feeling the hot concrete on our knees as we scrape and scribble our wishes into the ground. What a silly act. No time, no time.
I mean, it hardly seems practical when we are burning our tired fingers on the morning coffee and juggling newspapers with a collection of “Life” & “Business” just to saddle ourselves into a seat on the train.
I am 23 years old; still very young in the eyes of people who wish to be 23 again. But I pray I never reach a day where I stop reading the chalk dust etchings of my own heart. Or stop hearing the sounds of my two feet as I make my way through life.
We’ve got to be careful. Terribly careful. Because the rain, she comes and wipes it all away. And thunder is already guaranteed in our forecast, unexpected storms that will throw our toes off balance and make us rethink why we are even here to begin with. Do you have the chalk wedged in your waistband for the day the rain showers come? Because you’ll have to rewrite that concrete story once again. And scribble those dreams out loud once more.
You see, the world will never care to know if we did what we “should” have done… Should is just a word waiting to be banished from the dictionary. All that will ever matter is if we did what we always dreamed. People will let us down, that is for certain. Left and right then right and left and that will never matter either. But trust me, it will matter at the end of all of this if we lived our lives out loud. If we had the courage to do just that. If we stayed true to the chalk dust and the stories that the concrete still knows by heart.
It will be a good story to tell one day. The one you and I write about all the little dreams crossing over the border into True. I already know it. It will look quite stunning in pink & yellow dust.