The Destination and the Doorstep*

We can’t always see our destination from the doorstep. It’s not much of a journey from the front porch to the street. It’s  scary, and sometimes dangerous, to set off on a chosen road, but rewards are often greater for the risk.

Last December I started my first marine aquarium (“salt water tank” for the TL;DR crowd). I knew plenty about freshwater, but little to nothing of salt. The first night, I had a box of water with rocks and sand – and silt so thick I couldn’t see the back side of the glass. Not a coral in sight. Not a fish around. Just a dream and determination to reach it.

Two weeks later, not much had changed. I still had a box of water with rocks, though the silt had gone away.

Three months down the line, I brought some corals home. Small ones, carefully picked, but very small just the same.

I watched them and tended them and hoped that they would grow. Each day I saw them open. Some I even saw eat. (And eat…and eat….)

But daily growth isn’t visible through the glass. I watched with eager eyes and saw them thriving, but the journey didn’t look all that much different from the midpoint than it had from the very start.

Until I saw the photos.

The time and effort really did pay off – and that payoff will continue as the corals grow. My box of rocks has become a vivid garden. Fish play among the polyps. Crabs crawl across the sand. I couldn’t see it from the doorstep, or at points along the path, but now that I’m arriving the results are worth it all.

A far cry from a box of rocks.

Success did not come easy. It took time and work and heart. It took stewardship, effort and research. Cliches can tell you nothing worth having comes easily. They cannot tell you how good success will feel.

You’ll have to hang in there and experience it on your own.

And if you think this post was just about my aquarium, there’s something fishy about you too.

*I’m sending this out to everyone at the Historical Novel Society’s 2011 Conference, every aspiring writer slogging through the sloughs of editing despair, and everyone else with a dream. Hang in there. Cultivate it. Do the work, put in the time, and hang on even when the destination seems very far away. You can get there if you try.

3 thoughts on “The Destination and the Doorstep*

  • June 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    BEAUTIFUL! Now I know why you say it’s easy to be distracted by your aquarium 🙂

    • June 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      Thanks Amanda! I’m hoping I can hold onto the HNS motivation and not be quite so easily distracted since coming home, but it’s definitely difficult!

  • June 24, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Just look at the tank as the inspiration that it is and not the distraction !

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