Maybe sometimes all it takes is the courage to express a desire, the courage to admit that something is vital and significant and precious to your happiness. By giving voice to a need, a wish, a prayer, you forfeit the face-saving option of saying “It didn’t matter anyway” when it goes unfulfilled.
The risk is that if it does go unfulfilled, then your vulnerability is exposed. The deeper the desire, the more painful the disappointment.
And the reward? The reward is that sometimes, God takes that fragile bit of faith that made you dare to ask, and he says, “Yes”.
I longed to go to Cuyo, to take a huge chunk of time from my normal life and live on an island where I’d be a complete stranger. For several months, I’d breathe easier, fulfill a lifelong dream of learning Cuyonon, and maybe even figure out why I keep taking one hesitant step forward and staggering backwards for ten miles.
It would be completely self-indulgent. Irresponsible. Impractical.
So I didn’t say anything, and when hints of the longing would sometimes escape, I’d play it off as an idle daydream, a distant “someday” that may happen only when things are finally stable.
They were a long way from being stable. I had more practical goals to chase, and even though they seemed to recede farther and farther away until they had no more substance than a desert mirage, I was still supposed to stay on track. A commission that would have given me enough money for one month in Cuyo fell through. Then there was the constant reality of my bipolar disorder, which had lately become less predictable than usual.
All these were good reasons why Cuyo would have to remain my secret, imaginary escape for now.
Then I remembered that I once wore a red dress for a walk in the woods, and that I had never felt more alive while doing it. This was another red dress. Did I dare put it on?
I started slowly, writing it down in not-to-be-published notes.
I told three of my friends, using as many “maybes” and “mights” as possible to impress on them that I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen.
I talked to my university about taking some more time off.
I fumbled about with my family, trying to explain the complex, almost spiritual yearning that I myself did not completely understand. Why is it that those who matter the most are often the most difficult to face?
Then I posted it on my blog, announcing to anyone who cared to listen that one desire which could hurt me if denied. Yet it was more than desire, it was a hunger, as if my spirit were starving and could only be replenished in Cuyo. I did not fully understand why, and I didn’t know if anyone else would.
But nobody tried to dissuade me. My reasons were abstract, and my need, as urgent and real as it felt to me, was difficult to express. Yet all I received was encouragement, generosity, support. It could not have been a clearer “I love you” than if God’s booming voice had come out of the heavens.
So I’m going to Cuyo. It’s going to happen. It’s really going to happen. I won’t even let myself take the coward’s way of not believing it until I’m actually on the shore.
Whatever’s waiting for me there, I’ll find it. I want to find it. I believe that I will.