It sits in my hand, the cold metal smooth against my skin. Really, it's not the most expensive piece of jewelry I own. Harnessed in the lines etched into the surface are memories, hopes, and dreams.
One year ago I stood overlooking a cliff of uncertainty like a bungy jumper with only a cord attached to my ankle, squashing many fears but aching to fly. A lifetime of fear of failure, never really knowing if I belong, and fading into the background was too comfortable. There had been rumblings of breaking free along the way, but this was the true test. On that clear October day, as a plane descended from the heavens into Toronto, a song played as if it were written for that very moment.
Feet leave the edge, cool breeze on your face. Exhilarating. Terrifying. I leapt.
In the months that followed, I have found my fingers running over the smooth surface of the pendant, pausing each time over the letters. Sometimes absentmindedly, but often deliberately- this is more than a piece of metal or a souvenir from a conference. The word etched into the metal has become my talisman, my reminder that when life seems like too much, in the deep of night when words just won't come, why I love what I do. Beyond just the words, or the creative painting of pictures with language, is the community.
There's something about being part of something bigger than myself, with beautiful and amazing people all weaving their own voices together, that grabs my heart and makes it full. In the deep of night, when crisis hits, I know that someone out there has my back. Or when good fortune comes my way, there are people who genuinely are happy for me. I don't stand on that edge alone now but rather, with many of you, holding hands while we collectively take those leaps of faith.
Heartache, exhilaration, stress, joy, sorrow, all have been a part of the last year. I wanted to return to this place; to the cliff where I stood last year so uncertain, this time to leap with satisfaction. I know I can do this, now. That without a doubt, I belong here. Unfortunately, as time went on the universe had other ideas as one by one, my best laid plans to get myself back to Blissdom Canada were dashed; broken, until one evening, I was forced to see that that this year, I couldn't go back. "It's okay," I reassured myself, "There's always next year," but my heart hurt. I wanted, so badly, be with my people. The ones who understand my twitter jokes or hashtags, and who share my love of writing more than others. I wanted so badly to drop into Toronto on another day in October, this time with a new mantra.
I was lying to myself, you know. The reality is that my spirit gave up. Uncertainty had crept back in, and I found myself unable to respond. Where was the girl who leapt with such abandon last year? The truth is that one last thing, piled on top of everything else life had been throwing my way, was the tipping point.
Last week, an email arrived inviting me to Blissdom and suddenly I found myself shoved to the edge of the cliff again. Could I find a sponsor in mere days? Was it worth it to even try? Can I make that leap once more? Isn't it just too late? My fingers found there way back to the necklace, softly clinking around my neck. Late at night, they ran over the word letter by letter while I stared at my computer screen.
Go, you can do this.
Things can work out. Fight for it.
How will you know it's not meant to be if you don't try?
What's the worst that could happen?
Eyes closed, deep breath, I leapt once more, clutching that necklace like a talisman, remembering what my bliss is. Why I do this. I don't think that even then, I expected anything to happen.
A flurry of emails, phone calls, negotiations, and I can tell you I don't know how or why things happen the way they do, but I can say one thing for sure....
I'll see you all in Toronto.