Monday, March 16, 2015

I am not chasing my dreams.

Brad informed me the other day that he believes a large number of people we know do NOT know that we live in an RV with our 4 kids, travelling the country to promote my books, and that we plan to do it for the next 2 years. I think I had just assumed that word would get around via facebook and other forms of interaction and eventually everyone would know without me having to tell people individually.
There she is! A 30 foot class A motorhome we call home, named RVEnterprise, but lovingly referred to as "Bessie."
Our paid-off car. Our only one, and we sold it in order to afford the RV.

Brad may be right though. So let me be the first to tell you. In December of 2014, we rented out our home in North Dakota, sold our furniture to pay for 42 conventions, and bought an RV.

The night we bought Bessie. It was that moment that Brad and I realized how deep in it we were. Totally surreal.

We are currently over 3 months into this thing and I have now noticed another trend: people believe I have done all these things to chase my dream to become a famous author.

This is incorrect.

If this were what I was doing, I would have already quit. Actually, I never would have left North Dakota. I cannot speak for Brad because travelling in an RV and talking to people around the country is… well, his dream, (that, and being president of the United States, but I digress). Me though? No, my dream is to lock myself in a quiet room with a carton of cold coconut water and some toffee and almond chocolate while listening to my favorite Pandora station and banging out a story that helps me understand the world. My dream is to wake up to the North Dakota landscape after a heavy frost and feel my heart catch in poignant wonder at the outlines of crystalline-coated fields and trees against a cobalt sky. My dream is to walk outside to an endless expanse of North Dakota nothing and revel in the freedom brought by just standing there and seeing myself as a tiny dot against the endless backdrop of the prairie.
Be still, my beating heart. I love North Dakota, like so, SO much.

My dream is silence in the wee hours of the morning, looking into the darkness outside my window and imagining with a thrill that the only other people within a five hundred mile radius are people like me, those who know that creation speaks its secrets the loudest when everything is quiet, when the space we occupy gets a break from the churning force of humanity. My dream is the ease of insignificance, the music of my own head never to be drowned out by the cacophony of the world.

Hey look, I love talking to hundreds of people while wearing spandex.  It's me in my element. NOT!

Heaven happened here on a regular basis.

In case you were wondering, none of these things happens when you live the life I’m currently living. Furthermore, if the Colorworld Book Tour (#CWBT) results in the infamy of my novels, the aftermath will involve a lot of stuff that my dreams are NOT made of: more people, more talking, more crowds, more travelling, more deadlines, more demands, more hard decisions (of a different kind), and LESS of the aloneness I crave. There is nothing, I mean NOTHING that compares to the thrill I get from being alone. (Except maybe my Sunday night massages) But I swear I can just sit in a quiet, empty room in a comfy chair and smile at how big I scored and how lucky I am to be sitting there all by myself. Throw my laptop into that mix with a word processor and I really don’t know why anyone cares about heaven. It’s right there with me.

Now that you know who I am, why on earth would I put myself through these continually challenging  circumstances that include all of the things I find the most difficult?

The answer is simple.

My Heavenly Father has been abundantly clear and explicit that this is what I am supposed to be doing. And see, I owe Him for giving me writing. He gave me writing at a time when I was the most unhappy with who I was. He rescued me and made me love life and people again. The moment I wrote the very first paragraph of Colorworld, I was forever changed. It’s exactly like that very first conversation I had with Brad in which I knew I needed him in my life forever. I knew I needed writing in that same way. These are the two moments that have been the most transformative in the shortest amount of time. The stories surrounding both of those circumstances (meeting/marrying Brad and sitting down to write the first paragraph of a story) are rife with miracles that still humble me to tears when I think of them even though so much time has passed.

My driver. My biggest fan. My tireless promoter. My social media expert. My kid-wrangler. My problem-solver. My mechanic. My logistics. My inspiration. My marketer. My salesman. My husband. My lover. My masseuse. My best friend. MY GUY.
I don’t know what the end of this tour looks like. But not a day goes by that I have not felt the whisper of God’s encouragement. I ask, “Is this really what You want?” and I always get the same answer. And believe me, I have asked repeatedly because I am so tired I could cry. Really. If I sat here long enough and pinpointed how little I have slept and how much I still need to do, I would just cry. Another thing I ask is, “How long?” I’ve asked that one so often that it’s become a repeating mantra in my head.

I haven’t gotten the answer to that one yet. But it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that I am moving by a power that is not my own. I am moving by a WILL that’s not my own. Sometimes when I meet some quietude at night after the kids are sleeping, I ask myself what I, Rachel E Kelly, want. If I had a choice, what would I want out of my life now?
At the base of the St. Louis arch a couple months ago, early in our tour. Brad had dragged us down there about a mile through the bitter cold (no close parking due to construction and being in an RV), just to take this picture. As he took the photo I felt a mixture of irritation and acceptance because I hadn't wanted to go there in the first place, but I love Brad, so I went, even giving up my coat to Beya because the kids were underdressed for the long walk. I just think my expression encompasses my feelings about this whole #CWBT so well.

And I'm boggled that I seriously don’t know. I am no longer operating on “what Rachel wants.” I don’t even know how to do that anymore (except when Brad asks me if I will work the emails that came in or post something on Twitter, then the answer is a definite NO, I do NOT want to do that.) But if we’re talking about long-term stuff, I have zero desires. I have only what I know, which is that I need to do this. It’s a senseless, illogical thing that I can’t think about for long without my head getting in a twist.

So there you go. I don’t know what I’m doing, except that what I’m doing is what I am supposed to be doing. I’m not chasing my dreams. I’m repaying someone for a gift that was priceless. And one day, when these moments are behind me, if I ever find that quiet room utterly by myself, with coconut water, chocolate, and a laptop, I’ll tell you more about what it’s like to stop clocking in and out of “life,” and what it’s like to stop chasing YOUR dreams and instead chase the dreams of Someone Else whom you love more than anyone or anything else.

This picture is a powerful reminder to me of why I am doing this. I was broken down on the side of the road with our first RV last October (another long story), and still hadn't gone "all in" yet. There was still the option to turn back, but ironically, it was during the hours I spent at this mile marker waiting for a tow, unsure of the outcome, that I understood the moment had been orchestrated to be this way for a purpose, that I should not look to circumstances to tell me whether or not I was in the right or wrong path. So I knew I was in for it in this endeavor. But I also knew I should cling to the ship and not be afraid. I have been frustrated, angry, tired, confused, but I am NOT afraid.