Monday, July 1, 2013

Dreams of my Ten-Year-Old Self

It's been said that a person who makes a living doing the thing he loves never works a day in his life.  Sounds idyllic.  For me, that one thing has always been writing.

I was sitting on a hill in my backyard as a ten-year-old, working on poetry and journaling.  It was spring, the breeze tickled my neck and twirled my hair in its fingers, blowing the pages of my notebook up and making me messy my letters.  Tiny purple flowers surrounded me in my perch on the hillside.  In my mind, it's a picture perfect day.  Clouds speckled the sky like little ships sailing into harbor.  Birds sung happy, spring-time songs to each other.  It's the way one might imagine Jane Austen or Emily Dickinson spending an afternoon as a child.  Surely, I thought in that moment, this is what I'm supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.  My writings were far from extraordinary.  I had notebooks full of mediocrity.  Random words strung together.  Some were about nature or my most recent crush.  I often wrote about my family, my parents, feeling torn between them since they divorced.  But the subject matter was irrelevant.  That wasn't why I wrote.  I wrote because it felt good to write.  It felt good to be still and quiet and listen to the whispers coming from inside me.  Letting the moment dictate what I wrote was all the muse I needed.

As a child, teenager, and young adult, I was painfully shy.  My face would turn that not-so-charming shade of beet red whenever I was called upon in class or at work, whether I knew the answer or not.  Writing gave me a voice when I was too afraid to speak out in person.  Through my words and papers, I let people know how much I loved them, how much they hurt me, how circumstances affected me.  Words helped me discover who I was, and gave me a way to show other people the person that lived inside the shy body.  I dreamed through my writing, imagined great futures or distant pasts.  I relived past heartaches and found pieces of myself I hadn't known were missing.  I fell in love for the first time through letters.  Writing has always felt right for me, ever since that day on the hill.  Even when the words don't come out right, and I find myself starting again and again, there is always so much to learn through the act of writing, and there is the unending need to let out the images growing inside me.

I wrote religiously as a teen, even submitting some of my poetry to publications.  I read and wrote and read and wrote some more.  I was word-obsessed.  But I got busy as I got older, and as adults tend to do, I made less and less time for the thing my heart loved most.  I put my dream of writing into a little box.  I closed the lid.  I forgot about it all together.  I lost that part of myself for a while.  A long while.  I've been struggling to get it back ever since.

I never set out to be a best-selling author, though obviously that would be a tremendous accomplishment.  It's about so much more than recognition for me though.  As selfish as it sounds, I don't really write for other people.  I write for me.  It feels amazing when the things I'm sharing or feeling make a mark on someone else's heart because they identify with my experiences and sentiments.  I love how writing connects people.  I really love that.  But whether that happens or not, whether a thousand people read this post or no one at all, it is still worth it.  It still means something to me.  Because I created it.  I got to write it.  Writing is it's own greatest reward.

One of the most courageous things a person can do is to embrace the voice inside themselves.  To listen to the strings that are pulling at their hearts.  To pursue their dreams with fierce determination, not to box them up – but let them out to play once in a while.  To let their dreams guide their life and be confident that they are being led right where they ought to go.

If you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would you do?  What's the dream that has hung around in your heart, when your interests shifted, when you grew out of things, grew into new things?  What has been the one constant thing you could never give up?  The thing that would never let go of you.  The thing your ten-year-old self was spent free time pursuing.  Do you still dream about that magical thing?

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