Arise my sleeping heart
For far too long my heart has wept.
In endless depths my soul has slept.
The time has come for me to breathe.
The fresh air welcome, turned to the breeze.
I took the bait and sealed my spirit, letting only darkness in.
The struggles of a starving artist, oh where, my love, do I begin?
Entice me with the sound of silence, deaden all my senses through.
I clutch the last remaining straw, then turn the page and start anew.
I first realized I loved writing, I believe, when I was in the 6th grade. There was a report due in my Language Arts class that I spent 0% of my time preparing for. As is true for most important things in my life, I waited until the night before the assignment was due to begin working on it.
At this point in my childhood, my life was slightly more stable than in years past. My single mother had settled her and her four kids in to a respectable home, and there was no longer the fear (wrong word, I’m working on it) of having to bounce around to a different school with no notice. If we are being honest, she actually did quite well to hold everything together for as long as she did. More on that at some point in the future I’m sure. The fact of the matter is, I don’t have as much of an excuse for being a knuckle head as I would like to imagine because at this point, things were pretty good. So yada yada yada, and the paper is due “tomorrow.”
I developed a habit of waiting until the last-minute to do things because I had to once, for whatever reason and well… it worked. To a preteen it made perfect sense to wait until the last minute because it allotted me more time to do other important things like flip pogs or pass notes. So as was customary, I was up until after midnight piecing together something resembling a coherent thought. The next day I turned in the report, accepting the fact that a grade of 69 (failing in our grading system) was better than a zero. I brain dumped any mention or memory of the assignment and went on about my day, not once second guessing the decision I made. (At least this is how I remember it now) And then it happened. I’m not sure if it was one day later, the end of the week, or some time the following week, but I distinctly remember the following events with surprising clarity.
My English teachers name was Mrs. Cook. Her and I had an understanding of sorts. She knew my potential and would push for me to try harder than I wanted, and I would respond by finding ways to do less. That being said, we kind of liked… or at least respected each other. The day in question arrived like any other, but when I got to her class, and the assignments were returned with grades, I knew something was wrong. Everyone got their assignments back except me. I wasn’t terribly concerned until she walked over to my desk and asked me to follow her in to the hallway. I remember thinking there was no way this was anything but bad. When I turned the corner and exited the room, I saw my teacher and the schools principal standing side by side waiting for me. “Okay, this makes no sense to me.” I remember thinking, and then they spoke.
The principal spoke first, reminding me that I was not a bad kid, and that honesty was always the best policy. Then my teacher explained that in order to not get in serious trouble, I would need to provide them with the name of the college website that I used to plagiarise this paper. You see, they were both convinced that the paper I had spent a grand total of maybe two hours working on in the middle of the night was in fact a college level essay that I had ripped from a website. First things first, lets address the obvious. There is no way that 11 or 12-year-old me whipped up a college caliber paper in a matter of hours. Second, There is no way I could have stolen it from a website since our home was not internet capable at the time. I think a short time later we got a Web TV device, but that’s besides the point.
Long story short, I never got in trouble for the paper, although they hounded me for what seemed like 20 min. in total disbelief that I had produced the paper all by myself, when in reality I had done just that. But I learned that day that I had a knack for writing. Shortly after I started writing poetry, yes I still have it and yes it is awful, for all the girls I was friends with because… well, reasons duh! Unfortunately I never really pursued writing much past about the 9th grade. It was then that I discovered all the trappings of being a high schooler and took full advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. Over the years since then I have done little things here and there, but never really gave writing an honest effort.
So here we are nearly twenty years later and I have finally decided that the still small voice in my head might actually be on to something. Through my drug clouded teenage years, through the military, and through my on again off again relationship with Jesus Christ one thing has remained constant. I love to write. As a child I thought that I would always have an advanced ability, so I never nurtured it. So here I am pushing 35 years old, and that God-given talent is now dusty and malnourished. Add to that the fact that as an American adult, I’ve been groomed to view everything with a healthy level of skepticism, and I instinctively hate everything I write now. As you can plainly see if you have read this far, that hasn’t stopped me from writing.
But I am making a conscious choice. I am choosing the hard path when it would be far easier to coast through my day job, and life, with no real risk involved. I am hopeful that this website, and the pieces that I am sure will follow, will be the jumping off point for not only my passion, but for yours. Don;t give up on that dream you had when you were twelve. It is still there, buried under the useless crap that we burden ourselves with unnecessarily. Take a step. Not a leap, not a lunge, just a step. I heard a quote the other day. I’m not sure who the author is so I will paraphrase. But it was something to the effect of, When you are headed the wrong way, a step backwards is actually a step in the right direction. That statement is both simple, and profound because we are conditioned to think that any movement backwards is wrong or constitutes failure. But in this situation, that could not be farther from the truth.
Be bold, and take that step, even if the first couple have to be backwards. Do not let your passion die alongside all the hopes and dreams of those that decided to stop trying. I’m not sure how to end this, so… good-bye.