Most of my life, I dreamed of opening a bookstore. I used to imagine it like in the movies, of course. That’s how we picture things, like the picture shows. Then I found a way to explore opening a bookstore in reality, and it hasn’t been like a movie, but it has been…well, like a book. Things became real in the way work becomes real, no matter what you’ve seen in the picture shows. It has been more black and white than technicolor. More flat than hi-definition. But this isn’t to say it isn’t as good as I had imagined. This is to say that, like a good book, opening a bookstore is a breath-taking adventure, a slow and steady page-turner. It has taken far more than two hours to get the story rolling. It will take a War and Peace kind of word-plucking turtle stepping crawl to the final chapter.
I’m so glad because even though movies are often super interesting and overcome the senses and can be a great escape, I want this story to last so much longer than a picture show.
I found a way to open a bookstore. I have learned, through the years and through this process, that a person needs to truly want something in order to do that something. And I have learned that one needs to truly know why one wants to do something in order to do that something. My friend Kristin was there all along reminding me to hold on to my why, and to “ignore the dragonflies.” This means I can easily become overwhelmed with the little things, distracted, waving my hands around my head at the buzzing wings of “dragonflies” when I should be productive and responsible instead. Just do the next right thing. Then my friend Jean would remind me to breathe, which is important. Clearly, I would not get much accomplished without these people.
I have also learned that a dream doesn’t have to stay impossible when it begins to feel entirely impossible. When the naysayers start speaking. When rent prices are too high. When accounting programs are mind-bending. When the to-do list is gaining length faster than you can type.
When it feels like you just cannot possibly do this, you can.
I think you can. Because I did it, and I’m not all that great at follow-through. I have a million ideas. Then when the parts of the idea arise that make it difficult, sucking the life out of the project and making it not fun, I have a tendency to grow weary and give in to the resistance.
It must not be the right time. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I’m probably not made for this.
This time I found a way to do it, and I stayed with it when I could hardly stand it. When I could not lift another book to another shelf, return another email or phone call, or get my shoulders to stop cringing with stress up to my ears. Don’t even get me started on numbers and projections and business plans. I will always need help from experts with those things.
This time, I continued to limp along, in forward motion, because I finally knew that I could. I finally believed the Little Engine That Could story, but not because I’m suddenly more wise or capable. It was because I listened to a friend and realized she was right about not doing something unless you truly know why. What is your why? I realized that my why was buried deep within me. I did not have to push for it, wait for it, or create it out of a need to not get bored. I was content, and feeling pulled. It was a part of me, a part that needed a brick and mortar home.
When you know your why and you can clearly state it, things find a way of working out. Not without hard work, but my Why has kept me going when I was overwhelmed and exhausted. It will keep me going when I start to get bored, or get tired of the routine, and when all the details of having a small business take their toll.
My why helped me find a way to my how, and back around to itself like a homecoming.
I wanted a bookstore to provide space for the unifying power of story, in much the same way that I once wanted to write a blog that provided space for the unifying power of story. I wrote in that space for years, and slowly moved away from it, but not away from the desire to continue to create community, to connect with like-minded souls, and to tell stories that spoke redemption and helped another human heal with the power of a “me too.”
We are often in pain and sometimes lonely and always a bit worried about the state of the world. So. We need this: We need to read stories, to expand our perspectives and enrich our imaginations. We need to hear stories, over a table, with a cuppa in hand, or a homemade scone on a plate. We need to laugh and see each other’s faces light up when we do. We need to keep our technology in our bags or back pockets while we listen to the bustle around us, the whir of the espresso machine and the chatter of folks nearby talking about books they love, places they’ve been, their joys and sorrows. We need to hear. We need to be heard. We need to recognize ourselves in stories. We need to understand our neighbors more fully and with more empathy, through stories.
This bookstore was created for the unifying power of story.