A CRACK IN THE MEMBRANE



A few weeks ago Noelle shared how Coffee and Creatives began. Not with a bang, but with a conversation and an idea. A “yes” and a “let’s try it” and a “who knows what might happen.” A small crack in the ordinary veneer of the every day.

This is the way in which many great projects begin. Ideas form, sleep is lost, blood begins to pump, and art progresses. And like Anna, Beccah, and Noelle, my journey with the podcast began with a yes, though in a way it started many years before.

Beccah, Noelle, and I grew up together, so I’ve known them practically my entire life. We were church kids—Sunday mornings and Friday nights and the days in between. There’s an ease that comes with these kinds of relationships, allowing you to be true; there’s something about childhood and shared experience and moms who prayed together. I had not met Anna, but like Beccah and Noelle, I grew up with her husband, then just a curly-headed teenage boy, so knowing her was just an extension of my youth and has become as natural as any childhood friendship.


Beccah and I were the same age. Her world of five sisters, contrasted with mine of two brothers and made for a mystical and desirable partnership. We created worlds together at sleepovers and in red cushioned pews but had drifted apart with preteen drama and paths that led us in different directions. We occasionally reconnected over college summers and because of all those shared years, never lacked common ground. An adult friendship formed with the resonance of the past and she asked me to come on an episode of their podcast which I had been listening to in my quarantine podcast kick.

Perhaps these roots made it easy to say yes. Yesterday I watched my small nephew climb the red maple tree in my parents’ front yard. I’ve never climbed that tree, it was just a sapling when I was his age, but now it is strong. It’s branches cover the breadth of the lawn and he can climb it as easily as a cat. As I watched him I thought of the time that has passed to enable him to display his youthful agility. Not just his own learned experience and flexibility but summers and winters through which the tree stood still and just grew, without any action. It can feel like this sometimes with our work. It can be summers and winters and springs and the falling of leaves before we are strong and ready. It can be time and time over before we have the will or opportunity to say yes. But we will find the preparations have been made and time has built for us a stage on which to say it.

It is the opening of the membrane that Stephen Pressfield describes in his book, The War of Art. “When we conceive an enterprise and commit to it in the face of our fears, something wonderful happens. A crack appears in the membrane. Like the first craze when a chick pecks at the inside of its shell. Angel midwives congregate around us.” It sounds so simple and beautiful. As does the birth of a child. But the mother has been through morning sickness and pains, the growth of a body and sometimes even death to get to this place.

When I began the podcast it was in answer to a question. Will you do this with us? It was an easy answer for me, rooted in years of preparation. It didn’t cross my mind at the time that I was saying yes to so much more and perhaps no to other things, which is often the case. I said yes to renewed and new friendships and seeing my projects through, to texts and accountability, and the knowledge that someone will be asking me about my project other than my mother. The book and the questions that I struggle to answer and the fact that my projects are on my mind, like an ear-worm song, wriggling around, keep my vision clear when it begins to fog.


I look back on the things I’ve said yes to in my life—a workshop, writing a song, a marriage, a job, a creative turn. They often began with fear and imposter syndrome, but never followed with regret. I look ahead to questions yet to be answered and projects not yet conceived and hope that I will continue to find the grace say it. This is the long story of how I came to Coffee and Creatives, by an old friend and a short word.


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