For Emily, because we found her

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When Emily Dickinson died, they found a treasure trove of poetry that has endured for a very long time. In her lifetime only a handful of those poems had seen the light of day. She was afraid or otherwise unwilling to share them with others.

What are you keeping to yourself? How do you know you don’t have the power to touch millions of hearts?

You never know until you let the sun shine on your soul and share what’s in there.

Maybe you won’t change the world. But maybe you will.

Give it a try.

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It is still your life to live

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I finished another journal today. Tomorrow morning I’ll be reaching for another bound book of blank pages waiting to be filled with fragments of thought and bursts of creativity.

I got curious as to how the last journal ended, so I grabbed it off the shelf and remembered that I used the last page and a half to write a new preface for my book Refuse to be Afraid, which I was re-releasing last summer.

Much has changed since I finished that last journal. But I still believe this with all my heart and soul: Continue reading

Your dreams and wishes can come true

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“A dream does not work unless you do,” said the sign. It’s true.

“I can only write when the inspiration strikes,” said the author. “Fortunately it strikes at precisely 9 a.m. every day.”

“God helps those who help themselves” may not be a biblical quote, but it makes a good point. “A person makes his own luck through hard work.”

You can wish on as many stars as you like, but the key to making your dreams come true is to make your dreams come true. Make. Your dreams come true.

Oh, wishing is not a bad thing. The power of “I wish” is that the words that come next define what you want. But simply wishing doesn’t make it happen.

Set your mind. Do the work. And then the dreams start coming true.

It isn’t enough to know who and what you want to be – you need to get down to the business of becoming. You need to earn the rest at the end of the day.

You have to intentionally dive in and roll up sleeves and grab the tools and do the work. Not a flurry of activity and movement and no purpose; you have to know the why and the when and the where.

5 miracle workers on each hand

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These fingers have been with me for almost 64 years. They have written poems and songs and news stories and novels by the thousands.

They have strummed guitars and hammered nails, and stroked hair and plucked ticks out of dogs’ necks.

These fingers have been my conduit to a better place.

One day, of course, they will let me down and fail to accomplish the many tasks I require of them. That makes these fingers no less miraculous, and I am in wonder of them.

Consider what your fingers will do for you today, and be awed.

How Gareth Edwards became a Jedi Master

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It’s that Star Wars time of year. The first movie not directly part of the Skywalker Saga came out last week, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Red and I haven’t seen it yet – maybe tonight for $5 Tuesdays – but I was intrigued by something director Gareth Edwards was quoted as saying during the publicity run-up:

“I grew up believing in The Force as a kid, and I’m still wondering if it might be true. You shouldn’t get to watch ‘A New Hope’ every day and then grow up to make a Star Wars movie. I’m starting to think it might actually be real.”

Well, of course it’s real.

Obi-Wan Kenobi defined what we’re talking about in the aforementioned A New Hope, which is the “new” name of the 1977 movie called Star Wars for those of us who were old enough to remember when it came out:

“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”

Of course it does.

Of course all living things create an energy field that binds the galaxy together, and those who can tap this energy are the greatest of creators. Edwards is right: Not every kid who watched the original movie every day grows up to make a Star Wars movie. But he did.

He devoted his life to gaining the skills necessary to direct a Star Wars movie, and that focused hard work and study led him to a place where he was chosen to do so. He set the course of his life in a way certain to make that not just possible, not just probable, but actually so.

Edwards set out to make a Star Wars movie, and he used The Force to make it happen. He became a Jedi Master.

The greatest scene yet recorded in a Star Wars movie is the one where Luke Skywalker’s ship is buried in a swamp, and Yoda the great teacher instructs Luke to use The Force to lift the vessel out of the muck. (Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before; It always bears repeating.)

“All right, I’ll give it a try,” Luke says.

“No!!” Yoda barks. “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

Sure enough, Luke tries as hard as he can but can only move the buried ship a little bit. Yoda steps forward, holds out his hands, concentrates and pulls the ship up and onto solid ground.

“I don’t believe it,” Luke mutters.

“That is why you fail,” Yoda says.

Yep.

A lot of kids grew up loving Star Wars and wanted to try making one of those films. They didn’t. Or maybe they did try, but they didn’t believe in their heart of hearts that it could be done.

Gareth Edwards decided to do it. And he believed that he could.

That’s why when the credits roll, they say “Directed by Gareth Edwards.”

When I tap my inner Bradbury

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I am not coy and make no apologies about the influence of Ray Bradbury on my writing. Obviously I am no Bradbury, but he is the kind of writer I aspire to be. His phrases sing, his joy and enthusiasm are infectious, and at his best he transports me to another place.

When I tap my inner Bradbury, I fly across fields – tramp through ravines and deep woods – jump on rickety old summer porches that creak underfoot but are somehow rock solid – I launch into space feeling the pressure of G-forces, or I watch with hands clenched tight to chain link as the rocket sparkles into the night with a roar – I land on a distant shore and plant the flag of Tomorrowland – I hear the whisper of the long dead (or recently dead) just beyond my range of hearing – I jam with words as my notes and the pen as my musical instrument, a symphony of syllables, a ballad old as life – a butterfly’s wings beat down a lighthouse thousands of miles and millions of years away.

Do I still know who you are today, after I go back in time and comb my hair the other way on a certain day? Does yesterday happen if I change the day before?

Turn around, turn around, turn around and it’s 60 years later, and who would ever guess this is what would have become of that child? Flash and it’s 50 years later, and the stories I was reading on paper are up on the big screen. Boom and it’s 40 years later, and the arrogant young man finally understands why he was alone for so long.

Thirty years gone and the colleagues have been scattered but still love those times and each other. Twenty years ago I was in this same place, not knowing how much better it would become after a few wrong steps. Ten years ago I knew I would do what I was doing forever, never guessing exactly when forever would arrive.

And now, here and now, sitting in a place called Crossroads, I stare into the blue sky and look around at the trees, and hear the traffic of cars and trucks not far away on their way to myriad destinations, and I feel a spark of fear over what may come next – but it turns into a grin.

Life – it’s life that comes next. Where there’s life there’s hope, Samwise Gamgee once said – a statement that has resonated and buoyed me through the years.