Love Letters: To the Worn Out, Working Hard, and Wandering

The world is better because you walk on it.

Madeleine Hagan: The Salt Compass Blog


To the worn out, working hard, and wandering, on this 14th day of February, here are some love letters meant just for you.

To the one who feels directionless:

The world can seem so overwhelmingly large, and with so many options comes uncertainty and doubt, confusion and fear, and “what if I’m going the wrong way?” But allow me to remind your wandering mind: it is alright to not know where you are going. And it is alright to enjoy your wanderings in the meantime. Rather than letting your thoughts get lost in space, bring them back down to the earth into something tangible. What’s in your line of sight, here in this place? What if the best macchiato you’ve ever had is in that shop across the street? What if there are some amazing tacos at that family-owned place with the striped patio chairs? Don’t worry, you’re still going places. You are. But when the compass needle starts spinning indefinitely, consider it permission to enjoy being a little lost. Stops along the road don’t have to ruin the trip. They are fantastic for resting and refueling and finding great snacks. They are great for stretching your legs and taking in the views. It is a great time for exploring. Go to breakfast at that place you’ve driven by everyday for the past year. The one you’ve been meaning to try but always forget about. Drive to a city you’ve never been to before and wander around it for a Saturday. Take the tiniest of steps into uncharted territory, and celebrate these adventures unashamedly. This time too will not be wasted. It’s growing so much faith in you. Faith and trust and courage. You are going places. And it’s alright if that’s halfway across the world or halfway across the street. No one is rushing you to figure it all out with a five-year action plan. You don’t have to start at the end or even the middle. You can start with where your feet actually are, and see what’s around the next corner. You don’t have to look for plane tickets with final destinations and times printed out in neat little rows, although those tend to make it simpler. Who knows? You might have a conversation with someone as you sip that macchiato that gives you an idea to take baby steps forward after a breadcrumb trail instead. And maybe you won’t know where you’re headed until you actually get there. That is okay. It’s more than okay. It sounds like a dialect of adventure that faith speaks fluently. And you, with your patience and your faith, you’re going places.

You’re here. You matter. The world is better because you walk on it.

To the one who feels stuck:

I see you, showing up day after day, even when you don’t want to anymore. It is one of the purest forms of strength on this earth. You might not see the progress you’re making, but it’s woven into every morning alarm, every commute, every well-worn sidewalk you have memorized by now. Every late night study session, every trivial demand for your time, they’re forging something steady, solid, and true in you. These repetitive, energy-draining days, they are not endless. They will not be here forever. But the strength, perseverance, integrity, and discipline these days have grown in you? Those you will bring with you through all of your days. Keep on showing up, even for an audience of one. Keep on keeping your word, even if you just made it to yourself. This too will not be wasted. You are still here. You are still capable of vibrant, magnificent things. It is only a refined sort of strength that can carry many dreams through many long, anonymous days. And it is brave to carry hours upon hours of hard work through hidden years. Time is a costly investment, but don’t worry. You will emerge on the other side of these days with more than what they tried to take from you. A goldmine of strength of character and resilience that others are only just beginning the first steps toward.

You’re here. You matter. The world is better because you walk on it.

To the one who just wants 36 hours of uninterrupted sleep:

I hear you, and I’m with you. There is a kind of weariness that can wrap around you, heavy and smothering, that no amount of espresso shots seems to shake off. Perhaps you have reached the point where you’re already exhausted with the day the moment you open your eyes. Are there ways to restore and revive not just the body, but the soul too? The answer is yes, and it won’t be as tiring as you fear it to be. You’re in good company. Did you know you don’t have to do this alone? That there are people who will remind you what living abundantly looks like rather than surviving in scarcity, if you make space for them? Make friendship as essential as your morning cup of coffee. When you budget out your energy for the week, make time in community as essential as grocery shopping and paying rent. Make conversation the coat you wear out into the wintery landscape of your tired, survivalist soul. It is life-giving in comparison with the sugary world of self and survival, which quickly become sickness, leaving us sleepy and sluggish after an initial burst of effort to get the bare minimum done. You’re thinking: You don’t understand. Bare minimum is all I can manage right now. I’m amazed the spinning plates haven’t fallen and smashed already. You’re right. You need deep, soulful rest. Friendship, fellowship, community? That’s what they’re for. They bring us back to the land of the living. They remind us that there is true joy to be found in pouring time, care, and energy outward instead of hoarding it inward. And that somehow in the midst of that, we find we aren’t so drained and empty anymore. It is one of the great paradoxes, like finding our lives when we give them away. There is restoration and reviving to be found, when we spend the little energy we have with and/or for someone else. And that is something we can do in tiny yet essential ways, each and every day. Say yes to getting coffee. Say yes to seeing that movie. Say yes to playing board games and helping someone move. You can create space for this. Subtract away distractions until you have enough space. You still have it in you. You have more to offer than you give yourself credit for. And you will be amazed at the peace and rest you will find as a result. 

You’re here. You matter. The world is better because you walk on it.

To the ones who feel boxed in by a label:

Maybe for you the world doesn’t necessarily feel overwhelmingly large. Maybe for you, today, it’s too small. Maybe your label is “single” or maybe it’s “engaged” or somewhere in between. Maybe your label is related to your kids or your job. And maybe it’s all people have asked you about for months or years on end. Don’t worry though. You have not been reduced to that box people have placed you in. There is so much more to you than your job or your relationship status. You are allowed to step out of those flaky chalk boxes and widen the world’s view of you. And by doing so, you give them permission (invitation even) to do the same. You honor the complexity of every human in the world when you don’t hide away the many facets of yourself. And one of the most underutilized freedoms we have is to change our minds. To try something new. To hop into other boxes and rent them for a while. We can try yoga and guitar lessons or careers that spell out different words than the ones on our degrees and diplomas. We can learn to paint one month and decide we want to learn pottery the next. We can seek out different terrains to be the backdrop of our lives without any other excuse than, “I wanted to try it.” And you’re allowed to come back from any of these experiments and say, “It’s not what I thought it would be.” You can try a coffee drink you’ve never had before, and can look at online job boards just to see what’s out in the world right now, or you can start your own business from your favorite couch one Saturday. Just don’t forget to take people with you. To bring the ones you love along with you. To tell them what’s actually been taking up your thought space lately. Because then they can cheer for you and see a whole other side of you they can get to know and love. They’ll help keep you from falling off ledges you don’t see, but they’ll also point out bridges in places you only see chasms of the unknown. You’re more than an event (upcoming or past). You’re not stuck in a box just because it’s something you’ve always done. Those lines were just drawn in chalk anyway, and you could be the greatest hopscotch player that ever was.

You’re here. You matter. The world is better because you walk on it.

The Salt Compass Blog by Madeleine Hagan

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Love Letters: For the Worn Out, Working Hard, and Wandering