I was at the library. For aspiring writer’s there’s nothing more inspirational and discouraging than walking down aisles of books. On this particular day I was struggling to be creative. I needed a trigger — something to lead my mind away from Christian clichés and into the world of flying sharks. A world where anything is possible.
The children’s section!
As my eyes skimmed the shelves, I read titles about lions, spaceships, firetrucks, and a flying granny who plays banjo. The books were inspiring, and I wanted to sit down right then and write about flying sharks and talking bears. (I’ll share that blog another day!)
But I wasn’t there to write about flying sharks — I could do that later. I was looking for a book that could help me illustrate my frustrations in a humorous way. I was looking for a book that would describe — with pictures — my search for identity. A book that would illustrate what it feels like to sift through hours of personality profiles, stacks of books, and hundreds of journal entries and yet fail at figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. And then I found it.
A gray book with a short title: “Where’s Waldo?”
The oversized cardboard book was worn from years of being massaged by little fingers. A pixelated Waldo dressed in a white and red striped hat, white glasses, a white and red striped shirt, and blue pants stared at me from the cover. I opened up the book to the first page — my eye’s were overwhelmed by hundreds of cavemen and cavewomen.
In one scene, a leader caveman stood in front of a 40 or so cavepeople teaching them history. Another scene showed a rodeo caveman riding (or trying to ride) a bucking bronco. Some cavemen were playing an ancient form of baseball, and some were fishing. I noticed two cavewomen hitting their husbands with wooden clubs — I laughed nervously. I pictured my wife hitting me with a cartoon club — something that she would probably enjoy sometimes. But my favorite scene was by the waterfall. A caveteen dropped a rock on a wooly mammoth’s back; who then sprayed a caveman in the face; which knocked the caveman into the rushing river. And that’s when I noticed him. He blended into the blue and gray rocks surrounding the river. Waldo!
Even though his outfit was bright compared to the brown animal skins everyone else was wearing, it took me a while to find Waldo.
For me, figuring out what I want to do with my life is like searching for Waldo among the cavemen. Experts, speakers, books, and personality tests make it sound easy — they tell me that my personality and talents will be brightly colored. But when I examine my life in search of them, all I see is cave people.
Do you every feel like that?
The analogy goes a bit further.
What happens when you find Waldo? For me, once I find him, I see him every time. Once I see his goofy face and goofy outfit I can’t not see him. Even if I go to a different page and then turn back to the first page, there he is — Waldo is smiling at me like a creeper!
According to Jon Acuff in his new book Start, “discovering your passions is not a first date — it’s a reunion.” And I think he’s right. If we can sift through the clutter and find Waldo in one setting, it makes it a lot easier to figure out our gifts, talents, and passions in a different setting. (FYI — Start is a great book. It’s the “Where’s Waldo” for adults.) But reuniting with our passions can be difficult and frustrating!
So if you’re struggling to find your identity. If you’re stressed out because of all the available options. And if you get a headache from trying to figure out who you want to be when you grow up. Close your computer, go to the library, grab Where’s Waldo, and give yourself a break. You may just find, like I did, that Waldo has a lot to teach you about you!
Have there been times where you felt like your life was a scene out of Where’s Waldo? Continue the conversation by commenting below…