Last week, Jessica sat cross-legged on my bed as I was folding laundry and announced, “I believe in Santa, because he brings all those presents, but I’m not sure I believe in elves.”
For some people, this would be a bittersweet moment; their child is losing innocence, and the world is getting a little less magical. Me? I just smiled. I’ve been trying to convince Jessica for some time now that Santa is imaginary, but she’s not buying it. She kinda thinks I’m trying to steal his thunder by pretending I’m the one who delivers the goodies.
What I love about Jessica’s belief in Santa is that she holds it in the face of all evidence to the contrary, even her own mother’s claims. I would be less enchanted if it were some hideous bigotry, of course. But there are some things we have to hold on to, and should, even when other people think we’re stupid for doing it, and try to get us to change our minds. Holding on is a thing you need to be able to do if you hope to have any character, any sense of integrity.
What I love even more is that she’s capable of examining her beliefs, and holding them up to the light, and deciding if they still hold weight. Santa, yes; elves, not so much.
Listening to her, I realized it’s about time I started holding up my beliefs to the light and seeing what I learn about them.
Ever since people started reading “For Jessica,” I have believed that I need to do something about it. Write a new memoir (possibly one that would sell to a publisher), or create a community of parents with disabled children, or something. Leverage it, as they say. Build a brand! Deliver value! I talked to all kinds of people, but nothing seemed right.
But when I held that belief up to the light, I realized I didn’t have to do anything about “For Jessica.” It was already doing what it needed to do. I don’t have to figure out how to score from it; that was never the purpose of the work. I don’t need to figure out how to follow it up, or write another essay that as many people read and care about. It did what it was supposed to do in ways I could never have planned or intended or set goals for. It’s fine. I doesn’t need any more help from me.
What I need to do is more good work. That’s it. More good work, however that happens to show up at the door.
There are other things I need to dust off and squint at, and I’ll be sharing some of those down the road. But I’d like to hear from you: what are some of your beliefs that you need to hold up to the light and find out if they’re still worth buying?