I suppose it’s emblematic of the human condition that challenges and obstacles suddenly dropped on our path normally elicit the full range of reactions. As creatures of habit and ritual, we prefer to wrap ourselves in a blanket of familiarity and tend to avoid any variables that pose a threat to our safety or survival. I’m sure it’s somehow wired into our DNA, so we have Homo habilis to thank for the butterflies in our belfries.
But maybe there’s a hidden benefit to that knee-jerk panic response that sends the heart rate racing. Our bodies are being primed for evaluation, either internally or externally. We’re forced to take a moment of pause to assess and decide. So it might be wise to embrace those sweaty palms and shaky hands.
Zooming out, this can apply to individual situations or the “life map” as a whole. Rarely do we have the luxury of smooth sailing, and deviations from the game plan are more often a burden to bear and a maze to navigate. Change is a wool sweater on bare skin, and any progress takes some itching. There’s no such thing as painless growth, only growing pains.
Closing a chapter feels much different than writing it. I’m sprinting toward a checkered flag that was years in the making, and some big-picture evaluation has been monopolizing my sleepless nights.
Only time guards the answers. But right now, it’s hard to see if that rapidly approaching line is labeled “start” or “finish.”
After the initial words were put on the page more than five years ago, I’m happy to report that my first book is finally in the publisher’s hands. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and the fact that something only alive in a cavernous bedroom’s computer will be shared with the world is surreal.
Because this is a work of nonfiction, I am figuratively walking into the literary cocktail party without clothes. My exposure and vulnerability will be put on full display, and I need to be okay with that. I signed up to be the monkey in the cage, so there’s no sense trying to give refunds now.
Taking the steps necessary to complete a survival story required more emotional investment and mental time traveling than I could have imagined, but the result is a piece that speaks to the center of my soul. That felt like something worth sharing.
My hope is that the pothole-covered path of my adolescence can serve as a road map for anyone faced with the prospect of insurmountable obstacles. Sometimes the only way to traverse 10 feet of solid granite is to put your head down and start to dig.
We can all find inspiration in the lines of someone else’s script. The human condition allows us to examine our own fortunes when we’re forced to see the hardships of others.
I am proud of my life. I am proud of the hurt and I am proud of the fight. Psychological sludge be damned. The residue is the reason I remember.
Perhaps this was the grand purpose behind the pain, and using personal trauma to help lighten someone else’s burden is the greatest gift I could hope to deliver.