I don’t remember exactly how or why I stopped. I don’t remember when or where I stopped, and surely I didn’t know that the last thing I wrote that I loved, would be the last thing I’d write that I’d love. For years. My friend, who has eight-year-old twins, mentioned the other day that she doesn’t remember the last time she held her kids in her arms, in the air. They got too big. It simply stopped. You never know the last time you do something, that it will be the last time you do something.
I declared my journalism major pretty late in the game, and I was often doing 5-6 articles, essays and papers a week for three whole semesters. I was fried, but that doesn’t mean I stopped completely. I just stopped professionally. I went into Inside Sales, due to a strange chance job that gave me more than I can even say, but the writing had to go somewhere. It got funneled into emails to friends, family members, even strangers. The best was making a new friend at work who was also a writer. We’d toil away at our sales jobs, and maybe even like it, but we always just assumed we were meant for bigger and better things. I mean, isn’t that what being in your 20’s is all about? My big dreams weren’t just dreams. They were facts.
Then I got fried again. I was in love with a guy 3,000 miles away and I was sick of pretending I wasn’t a writer or photographer or whatever the heck I wanted to be. So I took two lunch breaks a day, came in late, left early, stopped answering emails promptly, and showed myself the door of that job. I moved to California – which is probably the most beautiful and awe-inspiring place I know, and maybe my brain was too busy taking it in, the way the other parts were. I simply stopped writing. I stopped photography. I worked at Trader Joe’s and as an Innkeeper. The words and the photos all got funneled somewhere, but instead of pouring out wherever they could find an opening, they just sort of got stuck into a sludge. Nowhere to go.
I wrote most of our wedding vows in San Francisco, but I had to go to the top of a mossy hill to do so. I had to make the words come. I wrote the emotional parts of our wedding program on another hill in San Francisco. It was easier, but not easy.
Before then and after then, writing and photography are instinctual things. I can plan them and outline them and Pinterest them and write them down, but it all boils down to the sparks. That’s when I know it’s ancient parts of me, and everyone else, built to do certain things. For if we don’t, and it can’t funnel out somehow, it gets stuck as a strange and spark-less sludge. And then it’s harder to get it out. You’ll freakin’ find a way, but it will not be easy. I shouldn’t have to ask it to come.
I wasn’t taking photographs at this time either. I wasn’t even an empty shell. I found joy (and anxiety) in other things. Maybe my eyes and brain and heart just had to see it all play out for a too-long while. I funneled some of it out in some other ways, and it just sort of settled in the middle and waited for me. It would have been an ok life, and maybe even a good one, but that’s the same thing you say about any path you didn’t choose, when you know how powerfully the spark sits – in the path you did choose. I would have felt like something was missing. Instead, it asks me to come. And I follow. Without question.
What I know now is that it will always come back to retrieve me. I may always fear it going away, like it did for a few years, but in between the birth of two children, this here blog, a photography business, and new, pending outlooks on life, I don’t worry so much anymore. I’m here three to five to seven days a week anyway. Sometimes there’s sparks. Sometimes there’s not. It’s ok. I wait and I watch and sometimes I give up enough to distract myself with anything and everything else, until it happens. In the morning, or in the night. It comes for me. It comes back for me. And I follow. No matter where we’re going.
It may not be what you think it will be. This week’s Finish the Sentence Friday topic is “Sometimes, I wonder about my writing. I keep on and on because…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE.