Used to be…

A couple of months ago, I sat down with a new professional connection, eager to discuss our goals and visions for the year ahead. It became clear that she had done a little bit of homework on me prior to our meeting, as she said this:

I saw you used to be a blogger.”

Used to be?! Oh right. My inevitable self-destructive demise as a writer had once again struck. No matter how many times I may promise, internally or externally, that this will not happen again, it does.

How is it that I maintain motivation for other outlets in my life, such as working out or failing to say “no” to requests for participating and engagement, but that when it comes to finding a space to reflect, create, and write, I flounder?

Over the holiday weekend, I started to read Stephen King’s On Writing in hopes of finding inspiration and guidance. There is still a small voice inside of me that sees a future in writing. That picture is unclear as to what that would entail (or, let’s be real, whether that is a viable option). But I so enjoy the craft of stringing words into sentences, evoking images of what is and what could be, and pushing the boundaries of reality and the alternative reality that our imaginations feed and expand.

While I’m still in the front third of King’s book, I have latched on to one of his early pieces of advice: create your space. As a writer, you need to have a physical space that allows you to travel off into the distant realms of your mind; to have a sense of focus but also flexibility. This morning, I’m writing from our kitchen table. I know this can’t be my space as I’m distracted by the coffee pot, the birds dive-bombing the feeders out in the backyard.

For me, it needs to be more than selecting a place in the home (or elsewhere) to write. It’s creating that opportunity in my schedule as well. And how does that work? This is where I turn to my partner-in-crime, who has been telling me from day one to learn how to say “no” more. If I’m engaging in activities that aren’t fulfilling me, especially when there are clear pleasures that I am not taking on (I.E. WRITING), then the simple action is to end the ones that I simply do, not love. For me, this is much easier said than done.

Today, I start here. Writing at the kitchen table. Waiting for my oatmeal to finish cooking in the microwave as another hummingbird defies gravity in its quest for the sweet nectar hanging from its precarious hook.

A man with no fingerprints

For many years, this character has dwelled inside the dark recesses of my mind. An older gentleman, of no particular race, ethnicity, or origin. He sits upon a bench, wearied hands resting upon a cane, as he overlooks a worn green lake, home to a few mallards drifting in and out of their evolutionary routine.

Essentially, a scene beckoning not much more than a passing glance from a stranger. Only upon closer examination does one come to understand that this figure of normality is far from it. Who is born without fingerprints? When much of human identity remains tied to these unique sketchings on our metacarpals, can a person truly exist in society with smoothy, untainted pads?

The question of identity – clearly a favorite among most in the literary sphere – intrigues me on multiple levels. First, the idea of self-identify (what am I to me?) seems that it can only be answered by asking the question (what am I to them?) where them can refer to one’s family, one’s colleagues, one’s social circle. Second, what parts of our identify are projected by us and in what settings do we shift those elements to cater to (ourselves/others/a higher power/nature)? One can argue that our identities continue to shift and adapt as we age, encounter new settings, but on the flip side, there must be elements of ourselves that remain forever unchanged.

Lacking fingerprints, to me, does not seem to fall on the same level as missing an appendage, an organ, or a sense. Those certainly can speak to one’s identity, if one so chooses to make them part (or is it a choice?).

Not surprisingly, you can be born without fingerprints. It’s a genetic condition called adermatoglyphia (a great article from the Smithsonian covering this topic).

Perhaps it’s not quite as special as I think, not that I type this out. It’s simple another abstention from what is considered the social norm. Dozens of other characteristics could fit this same mold.

Regardless, I think I’ll write this story some day. The ever-pressing yearning to be more on the inside, even if we already know in our hearts that it’s not the place we truly want – or should – be.

So…now what?

New job?
Check.

New house?
Check.

New relationship status?
Check.

The last few weekends, while despite still having much to do, have offered a change of pace compared to the previous 25+ of 2014: a sense of quiet and satisfaction. There is time now – or at least we have the time available – to enjoy our new home. We have yet to plant our first tree (and – at this point in the game – we might put this on the 2015 to-do list), but we have continued to build out our space in other means.

We’ve broken bread with several friends; connected with our neighbors; hung frames on our walls; and tidied up the bins where things have just lived since July.

I hope this new “free time” includes me making a concerted effort to delve back into the world of writing. Since I last left the blogging sphere, I joined a book club with folks from the area. Our first assignment and subsequent discussion was marvelous (we read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, which I enjoyed – sci-fi meets religious overtone projection of a post-climate change apocalyptic western US coast). Getting back into literature from a pleasure standpoint (not to mention the other three books that I read during our Honeymoon: Hyperbole and a Half, Dark Places, and And the Mountains Echoed) also ignites the desire to create again. And, not merely the ramblings of “This was my day. It was nice. Maybe I ran?” but deeper, more meaningful (or perhaps how I define meaningful).

While the old flame of prose and pontification continues to burn, I’ll at least share a couple of photos from the day that forever changed my life: September 19.

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What happened?

Is history repeating itself once again? I have felt so disconnected from the blogosphere, as both a faithful reader (with attempts at pseudo-engager) and dedicated writer, exploring the various aspects of my life that continue to bring adventure, satisfaction, and challenge. Over the last two weeks, I have been struck by various post topics in the shower, in the car, and while at work, but none have actually manifested themselves into the “pages” of online print.

After spending this weekend in a prone position due to the onslaught of germs, I have tried to catch-up on what I have missed, mostly for the love of reading other people’s words. I certainly appreciate the content as well (because what would be the point of reading otherwise?) but I take such pleasure in how other people express themselves.

Overall, one of my current challenges is computer burnout. After spending my entire day in front of a screen, I am coming home to total avoidance. Unfortunately, I have been slipping back into the bad habit of bringing my phone with me to the couch (a habit acknowledged this weekend with Aaron and now that is in the open, can be improved upon again). But, I still have little desire to crack open my laptop.

How do you all find balance in sitting in front of the screen to read, write, work, play, and stay connected? Advice wanted!