I love reality checks, those moments that cause you to pause and see where you are in life and offer a moment of reflection.
Last week I saw a friend from ages ago and when she learned I was a writer the look in her eyes held everything from disbelief to confusion. Curious, her questions pressed on, stating things like well, you must have left your career then - right? A sly grin told her that I hadn’t, then she moved on to ‘what about your kids, though? They are starting school and such - how do you have the time for this - you a writer, really? That’s an intense vice, hard work - wow, just wow.’
Our conversation was cut short so, I didn’t have the chance to explain my new found obsession, or even why I enjoyed it so much. The Jamie she knew was the one who vaguely paid attention in English classes, groaned when assignments involved required reading - the girl who hashed her papers together the night before they were due. She knew the Jamie that was firmly placed in reality, the girl who already knew how her life would be lived, and was going through the motions that moved from point A to point B.
If I could go back and time and tell myself that in 2012 I would have five books published,and ideas for more than I could explain briefly, the girl I was would have seen it as torture. I could hear myself now: you want me to sit down for hours on end, in my sacred free time and write endlessly, then you want me to go back and edit and chop the story I created into tiny pieces again and again, then after all of that you want me to share my private daydreams with the world. My young response would have been “whatever” I can hear it now. Oh how life changes us.
What would have seemed like agony years ago, I yearn for each moment of each day now. I don’t think that makes me crazy. Perhaps a late bloomer, but not insane. I think it shows that each person has a vice, a way out of the ordinary, and when they take it, life is transformed in ways that are beyond the imagination.
I admit I didn’t watch much of the Olympics this time around, but when I did catch a glimpse of it, I could see the hours on end of training in the eyes of each competitor, I could see the obsession for the event they were in, the sacrifices they’d made to reach that point in their life.I know that if I had to endure one day of their lifestyle it would be the death of me. What was their joy would be my hell. And that is how it should be. We are not all meant to walk the same path, we have our own. From the outside looking in every career whether it is in the creative, athletic, or even business field has its moments of bliss and agony. If you are meant to do what you are doing the agony would never register.
In the same week my twenty two year old brother was plotting what course he would take with his life and he asked me for my advice. This is what I told him. “If you would do it all day - everyday and never expect a dime or ounce of recognition, then that is what you are meant to do - that is what will make you happy.” I told him what I would have wanted my college advisors to tell me.
The friend I ran into days ago was not out of line to think that me embarking on this adventure was a bit to much to take on, that I had a family to support and a career that was in its prime. I’m sure she thought that when I was an old woman I could sit down and write out stories, that then I would have the time.
All I can say to that is life is short, and not meant to be preplanned, and when you find something that you love, that sets your soul on fire, you find the time. And because you found that time you’ve open doors in your life that lead you to people and places you would have never known otherwise.
What is your vice? What is bliss to you, and agony to others? Whatever it is embrace it!