For a long time I have considered myself logical. I have made decisions by applying the rudimentary principals of chess. I am a “snappy” decision maker; I weigh the options, root out the logical outcomes, and make a decision. I rarely, if ever, look back unless it involves larger sums of my own personal income.
Have you ever been asked what you’re “passionate” about?
Do you have an answer other than your significant other? I sat thinking about the question and thinking about an exercise that my wife had shared with me some weeks ago. Supposedly, if you continue to write the question: “What is my purpose?” and then follow it with an answer, over and over, you will eventually come to a solution that will really pull your heart chords and make sense to you. I tried this for approximately two hours and was not moved by anything I wrote. I wondered if it is possible that I simply have no purpose? Care for a side of Nihilism, anyone?
I remember being very passionate as a youth. I suffered from the belief that I knew everything, as many teenagers will tell you they do. I was angry too. I vented my anger into my writing and wrote some of the best things I have ever written during this time period. At no point do I look back at my teenage years and say, “That was a great example of logic!” I was fueled by fury, love, passion, dispassion, chaos and disorder. My words were on fire. What happened?
Did I simply grow up? Did something different happen, did I make a choice to abandon the burden of my excess of emotions in place of logic? If so, why? Before I get to that question, let me explain where all this came from.
I signed up for a class with the Writers’ Center of Indiana. I mentioned it in my previous post. The instructor is Dan Wakefield, author of “Going All The Way,” and a genuinely great guy. He’s a phenomenal presenter and has an excellent approach to garnering memories from your past to help with memoir writing. The class is about writing about yourself or finding your inner thoughts, experiences and emotions to fuel your writing. While everyone else was busy writing about some beautiful, charming reminiscence of their childhood, I was busy remembering details of troubling events from my past. While remembering these troubling events, the book I am reading at home has been “To Each Their Own Darkness” by Gary A. Braunbeck on the craft of writing. Fitting, eh?
Don’t worry; this isn’t where I regurgitate the details of my past. I would say without a doubt that I am thankful that my life went as well as it did. I’ve heard stories of far worse cataclysms than my life. I had it pretty good, save for a few glitches. We all had glitches; even the people you believe to be perfect.
The stories I wrote in class were dark and yet moving. My classmates were awed by the words and responded with great appreciation for my sharing them. However, they all had that unmistakably troubled look in their eyes. Why is this well-mannered and even-tempered guy so dark?
It troubled me to the point that I did not attend yesterday’s class. I believe that I have become afraid of dredging up darker memories by which to disturb the older denizens of my classroom. I am not worried about those classmates so much as I worry about myself. I remember a much darker version of me. I was once completely imbued with anger. This anger also fueled my writing. We’ve all had bad relationships in our lives, be they with parents, lovers, friends or foes. I generated story after story, poem after poem, some dripping with hatred and spite, some oozing with love and passion and yet some more that proved thoughtful interest in something bigger than myself. It was a destructive and powerfully creative phase of my life. I believe that I saw the danger of continuing to behave as I was and decided to control it. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that this occurred. It took some alone time to put together a box strong enough to hold everything. I think that at some point I stuffed what I could into a heart-shaped box, chained it, locked it and heaved it into the ocean hoping that it would find solace next to the Titanic.
I had embraced logic in lieu of passion, anger and powerful writing. I wrote my best stuff back then. Now suddenly, all at once, thanks to Dan Wakefield and Gary Braunbeck, I feel some sense of creativity awakening. But I need to know; am I capable of regaining my voice from the depths without returning to the anger that I locked it away with?
There’s only one thing that I know how to do well and I’ve often been told that you only can do what you know how to do well, and that’s be you, be what you’re like, be like yourself, and so I’m having a wonderful time but I’d rather be whistling in the dark. ~ They Might Be Giants – Whistling in the Dark
I believe that we are all, in some ways, untrue to ourselves. We change for what we think is the better, given our situations. How fair are you being to yourself if you change for the world? I might sound a little preachy here but shouldn’t people be expected to love you for you, as opposed to love you for who you pretend to be?
Who are you?
Who do you pretend to be?
What are you really passionate about?
I would love to hear from you.