Yesterday I walked into the L’Arche Ontario house with my mind overflowing. I’d been asked to write a book proposal, and the task was daunting. The proposal is, at present, 44 pages long. All published writers who advise would-be authors on the book proposal say two things: one, it must be perfect (but there are several different formats you can use, and several components that may or may not be optional.) Two, if said proposal is not perfect, you do not have a shot at being published.
They finish by saying: No pressure, though! If you have a good idea and are passionate about your work, it’s possible! Let your writing shine! (This is easy for them to say. They are published. They can afford the luxury of optimism.)
One can see that I was a tad bit stressed.
But then I saw Pedro* sitting at the dining room table. He was working on his ‘tarea’ (his self-imposed homework), and he waved me over with his free hand.
“Caro-line!” he said. “Come-ee here. Como estas?”
Suddenly, I was back in perspective. All at once, I remembered: to Pedro, it doesn’t matter if I write the perfect proposal. All that matters is that we’re friends, and that he’s happy to see me.
It calls to mind a vacation I took with Leo, and a moment in which I got perspective in a stressful situation:
“[Leo and I are] at the airport, standing in line to check our bags. Yet worry won’t leave me. I pray for trust…and then our flight gets canceled. The words, “mechanical difficulties” are barely out before a hundred and fifty people rush towards two ticket agents. Leo and I stand in line for two hours. We hold it together, even making friends with some of our fellow travelers. But both of us break down, too: he leaves my side to stomp around after the announcement, and I almost weep in anger when the ticket agent (by the time we reach the desk, there’s only one) tells us that our bags might have been sent ahead to Illinois….
The moment of answered prayer, however…that comes when I glance at Leo, his head down over his folded arms atop the ticket counter. I see him, and it’s as though someone pulls aside the curtains of our minor catastrophe and lets in the light. I can see Leo again, how strong he’s being. A question sounds in me: do you love him enough for do everything you can to make this trip work? And I answer: yes.”
Who do you need to see today? What relationship do you need to focus on? What situational ‘curtains’ do you need to pull aside in order to see more clearly the gifts you’ve been given?
I felt much more motivated to work on my proposal after I spent some time with Pedro. He reminded me of why I wrote my book in the first place—because of the luminescent people I am privileged to know, and how they have changed my life.
I hope you are fortunate enough to have a Pedro in your life—someone who is happy to see you not because of what you do, but because of who you are.
*Names have been changed.