If you were a kid in the sixties that went to a Catholic school, then at least once a year you saw a movie about missionaries. Those selfless, giving people that went deep into the most remote areas of the world to spread the message of God.
The films were usually shown at the end of the day, and back then they were a grainy reenactment in black and white. Every film ended with some poor soul up to their armpits in quicksand because they didn't heed the Bible or scoffed at some foreigner trying to change their ways. When we got a little older, the movies upped their game and would end with quicksand and a serpent because scaring the crap out of kids is the best way to get them to love Jesus.
The only way to save a person from that kind of fate was to donate to the missionaries, and I'd come tearing home from school yelling "MOM WE HAVE TO GIVE THE PAGANS MONEY!!!"
Like every other big family back then sending their kids to private school, there wasn't any extra money so Mom would say, "Look under the beds and couch cushions. You're bound to come up with something." I'd crawl around the floor with a flashlight and under the beds then rifle through all the pockets of the coats crammed in the closet. The next day I would go to school and hand over my fistful of coins to my nun teacher to SAVE THE PAGANS.
I was absolutely sure that I would die in quicksand one day. In the dramatic telling of the missionaries and their very important work, nobody ever told me that the likelihood of that happening is about 0%.
But, Lordy, I have made my own quicksand and it consists of fear and doubt.
Whether it be employment or writing I push down my passion and talent because I eventually hear that voice that says, "Yeah, ummm.....you're not that good." I've gotten a little better in the last few years because a post-50 life comes with a loudly ticking clock, but why, oh why do I repeat the same mistakes over and over? In looking for a job if there is one qualification that I don't have the skill set for I don't even try. Never mind that I could rock the rest of it without a problem, I am the one who always holds me back. If I write something that has a lukewarm response (because maybe people have busy lives and can't respond even though it may have resonated with them) then I think I should just give this game up.
I have worked with this woman over the years and in several different stores who is about twenty years my junior. In my retail days her and I loved to tear the store apart and redo it, and in the process have the most spirit-filled, deep conversations. To say I adore her would be an understatement
Last year we worked together again and she was managing two stores with about ten employees. If you needed time off for anything and requested it in the "princess book" she would accommodate you. One day when we were working together and she was trying to put this massive schedule puzzle in place (over Christmas, no less) I said, "You know I really appreciate that you do that for us, but why don't you just make the schedule and let everybody else figure it out if it doesn't work for them?"
"Because," she said, "I understand that everyone has a passion outside of this job that makes their heart skip a beat, and if I give you the time you need to pursue that you'll be a happier person when you're here."
She should be running the world, don't you think?
Recently, I actually heard a story about quicksand. Instead of fighting against it, you should lean your back into it. Your legs will eventually surface because contrary to what you might think there is a lot of water in quicksand. Your fate is not sealed if you find yourself in that predicament.
The missionaries in the movies I saw never elaborated on that one useful piece of information. Perhaps they didn't know, but the lesson I wish they taught to all those watchful eyes in the darkened school gymnasium was to stop fighting and lean back into your passion.
Not only will it save you........it will take you to the promised land.