Pinterest is my sun and moon and angelic, devilish, omnipresent companion.
I usually love Pinterest, gathering recipes and craft ideas with each swift scroll of the page. I choose who I follow wisely, almost babying myself to ensure I don’t accidentally stumble across a fragmented, sleazy corner of the internet. I follow a joyful, deep thinking, creative crowd, peppered with fashionistas, writers, and chefs.
Pinterest is my siren call and my lotus flower. For those not studying literature, Homer’s Odyssey explores the Greek mythology of the lotus-eaters on an island off of North Africa. The lotus flower was a narcotic; if a person consumed a lotus blossom, he would drift into the dreamiest, softest, most lethargic sleep imaginable.
Pinterest inspires me, but entices me, pulling me deeper and deeper through the computer screen until I am practically inside the website, losing sight of my surroundings completely. For some people it’s Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Pinterest is my bittersweet bride (groom).
And then the other day I saw it. Tucked away in a little corner of my newsfeed was a picture of a handwritten quote. It looked humble and simple, but those are often the best kinds, so I clicked. I wish I hadn’t.
I knew it wasn’t mean spirited by nature. I knew it wasn’t an attack on me. I knew all of these things. So why did it feel like I was kneed in the stomach? As a writer who loves taking pictures and making art, I felt convicted and attacked. Contrary to what I thought about myself, or what my parents, friends and professors thought about me, I felt like my passions were no longer legitimate. I felt as though my words and paints and pictures just swirled into the creative efforts of the rest of the right-brained world, muddling and mixing until nothing of worth was left.
It’s like when you mixed every hue from your kindergarten watercolor set back in the utopian days of naptime and snack time. Your teacher told you that you’d get a swampy brownish-black if you mixed them all together, but your little five-year-old heart still believed that you would, indeed, be left with a rainbow color. I felt like the five-year-old—the world was saying “I told you so,” and I felt cheated of the respect I thought I deserved for at least trying to be innovative.
It’s like how (seemingly) everyone has a blog.
Everyone and their mother have a blog—often literally (pssst... I know “their” is incorrect in that sentence. It’s a cliché... work with me here!). When I began The Little English Girl in high school, blogging wasn’t foreign, but it certainly was not cool or mainstream (or maybe it was cool, and I just wasn't "in the know"). These days, my Facebook newsfeed (when I did have a Facebook, anyway) is littered with the same Buzzfeeds and Gifs and trivial articles as usual, but the feed is no longer sprinkled with blogs—it’s saturated with them.
When I began to see this influx within my own friends and acquaintances, I felt a little jaded. I didn’t want to be spiteful, but blogging was my thing—wasn’t it? I quickly realized that being possessive over blogging illustrated the same irrationality of being possessive over painting, using Pinterest, or once being a cheerleader and competitive swimmer. All of these things were “my” passions, but did that mean I would be offended the next time someone picked up a paintbrush, pinned a picture, did a toe touch, or dove into the water?
As for the legitimacy of my passions, I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t want to turn to my parents. I knew they would tell me that yes; I am more than legitimate and enough. They would tell me that I am their gifted, creative, sensitive daughter—yes Rachel, you are special.I didn’t want to turn to God (out of my own stupid stubbornness). I knew He would tell me the same thing... except... He didn’t. Even though I didn’t give my insecurities to Him, He still knew my thoughts. He knew that telling me I was special would only fall upon deaf ears—the idea that “if everyone is special then no one is” was the entire crux of my argument. He knew I wasn’t ready to dive into the thick of the topic, and so he soothed my mind in the moment and I went on with my day.
It wasn’t until today that I got my answer.
This month, my book club and I are exploring the novel Eat Pray Love, dipping our toes in the cultures of Italy, India, and Indonesia. I have read this book a handful of times for a handful of reasons. I really connect with Liz Gilbert’s writing style. Equal parts witty and insightful, each line drips with subtle humor and beautiful language. I also connect to Liz as a person (maybe a little more than I care to admit). Her longing to escape the mediocre and mundane speaks to my own dreaming heart. Her personal depth, need for support, empathy and affection (I think at one point she refers to herself as somewhere between a Golden Retriever and a barnacle), and her love of the little things in life mirrors my own spirit. It’s a thoroughly wonderful book overflowing with whimsy and experience.
Reading the book for the 4th, maybe 5th time, proved deeply satisfying. Even though I know the characters and plotline by heart, I began to unearth some really interesting bits of narrator commentary that I hadn’t previously noticed. This one, I knew, was God’s doing:
“Because the world is so corrupted, misspoken, unstable, exaggerated and unfair, one should trust only what one can experience with one's own senses, and THIS makes the senses stronger in Italy than anywhere in Europe. This is why, Barzini says, Italians will tolerate hideously incompetent generals, presidents, tyrants, professors, bureaucrats, journalists and captain of industry, but will never tolerate incompetent opera singers, conductors, ballerinas, courtesans, actors, film directors, cooks, tailors... In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
And with that, stitching together words, smearing paint on canvas, building a lyrical sanctuary through verses and music, and taking pictures of His creation is 100% legitimate. I no longer had to (have to) bitterly envy those who posses different gifts and talents than me—the finance majors, engineers, mathematicians, and chemists, fluent in Latin and fortified with intelligence and prestige. My right-brained, religion-and-English-studying mind need not fret no longer.
Stitching together syllables and examining theological underpinnings is important to the world because it is important to me. Though I am a stark contrast to my biochemistry, computer science, business and finance-laced family, creating beautiful things—as sometimes only beauty can be trusted—is more than enough.
P.S.: You may or may not have noticed I no longer utilize social media. More on that later. If you'd like to contact me, follow the "write me" tab at the top of the page and fill out an email form.