I keep dozens of succulents alive. They probably hang on the wall with a contraption I built myself from a design on Pinterest. The light streams in through sheer white curtains onto the wall where my little green charges reside.
Not just the curtains but almost everything in this loft is white. White couch, white cushions. White bedspread. White walls with some exposed brick to add some character.
I wake early because I’ve had a full night’s sleep. My drawers are all organized. My shower tiles are always sparkling clean. I start the day with yoga and hot tea (I am the sort of person who knows a lot about tea in this imaginary life). Then I write for a few hours before taking a stroll through botanical gardens or an art museum to “clear my head” for more writing.
I go to a pottery class in the afternoon and say things to my fashionable friends like, “I just feel so centered when I’m at the wheel.” I cook exotic meals in the evening and eat on my balcony overlooking the city. I don’t have to talk to anyone all day if I don’t want to.
But this is not real life. This is nothing like my life.
I don’t own white anything. My couches are brown, the rugs are patterned so they don’t show stains easily. I don’t try to keep houseplants alive. The drawers are always a disaster, the shower always needs “attention.” I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since 2008.
My writing is done in the in between hours of a boisterously busy home life: four kids, homeschooling, small house, chickens, goats. We eat a lot of soup because it’s cheap and easy to prepare after an afternoon of extracurriculars.
It’s not the White Loft Succulents, but it’s my life. It is FULL: of people I love, of tasks to be done, of books to write. I am a writer, but I am also a mother, a wife, a friend.
My life is not tranquil, but it is as real as the flesh and bones that comprise my body. It is as loud as the gibbon habitat at the local zoo. It fills me with joy every single day.
But it’s nothing like my imaginary succulents and the white couch life. Because that life in my head is all about me. Each moment of the day is orchestrated for my comfort, my satisfaction, my perfect vision of tranquil days. And God didn’t give me that life.
He gave me a life that would require me to move outward from my wants and desires each hour of the day, to pour myself out for the love of others. A life full of the discomforts that stretch us and turn us into who we were meant to be and the people we learn to love more than ourselves. It is a life that each day saves me from the tyranny of Me.
It’s a life so full that I always have something to write about. I am constantly learning, growing, failing, retrying, moving in concentric circles that expand ever wider like the expansion of my heart in this blessed life.
My family does not hold me back from my imaginary life, they save me from it. The creative spark that burns when I put words on a page burns only brighter because I live a life of constant creation. Creating a home. Even creating the people who fill it. I can brew a book in my brain, but I can craft a human body in my womb to emerge kicking and crying into the light of life. It is all grace.
Do not dwell on whatever the Succulents and Pottery Class Life is in your own head. Live your life. And live it for other people. It was handcrafted for you. Embrace your family–as they are, not how you imagine them to be (less exhausting, less noisy, less irritating). Decide that this is who they are and love the heck out of them.
Take breaks when you need them. Life is hard. Spend a weekend in an apartment with succulents now and then, with white cushions that no one will jump from whilst wearing muddy sneakers. Breathe and rest because human beings need these things. But live your life. Don’t play “I could, if only.” Play, “I can, right here.”
There is time to have houseplants and white couches and quiet mornings someday in the future. I’ll probably hate it and miss the noise. “How can I write with all this SILENCE?” I’ll say. I’ll borrow some neighborhood kids and pay them to bang on pots and pans so I can actually get some work done.
Okay, I won’t do that. I won’t need to because God has a way of figuring out how to help us turn from ourselves to love someone else who needs that love–no matter what stage of life we’re in. I hope I can embrace whatever it is that pushes me to move outward from myself when it shows up. Maybe I can have succulents, too. You never know.