Written on October 15, 2014.
I don’t know if you are a writer. The truth is right now, at this exact moment, I don’t know if I am one either. If you are a writer, or an artist, or any type of person who dabbles in the chaos of making things, then perhaps you understand where I’m coming from. Perhaps you understand that there are moments when we just run dry; when we lose the ability to make something we could actually be proud of.
“It’s not actually lost,” a friend tells me. “The ability never really dies. You’re just stuck. You’ve hit a wall and the only thing left to do is power through.”
That sounds true. That even sounds practical. But powering through requires some amount of will and the fact of the matter is that I don’t have any. I don’t know how to conjure something that doesn’t exist at the core of my soul. So right now — yes, right at this very moment — I’m faking it.
And as much as I know you all deserve to read words blooming with life, hope and inspiration, I think there is something beautiful about beholding the dark night of another person’s soul.
Nothing tragic has happened. There’s no great heartbreak, no major life changing event. I am not grappling with pain. Perhaps we need to rethink the notion that calamity is the only thing in the world that ruins people. Sometimes all it takes is the daily grind.
My students and I were talking about protagonists the other day. “What makes the story compelling,” I told them, “is change. How one character gets from Point A to B. Whether they are wrecked or glorified by the circumstances. Stasis. Something has to happen to the character or the world the character lives in, otherwise the story is stuck. The story doesn’t move forward.”
I think what my soul is hungry for is change. They call this the curse of the millennial — our insatiable discontent. The baby boomers know what it means to get a job and stay in it for 40 years. But that concept is lost to people like me. How did they do it? How did they manage to suck it up and stay? My generation is different. We are annoyingly ambitious and hopeful and we keep looking for more.
I like my job. In fact, I’m one of those people who lucked out real early in life because I knew that this — teaching — is something I wanted to keep doing for a really long time. It has been four years and I still love it. I still believe that it is a privilege to work with young adults, to invest in the potential of the next generation.
But I guess this is what cold feet before a wedding must feel like. The thoughts rushing through me at a mile a minute have everything to do with doubt. Is this really what I want to do with my life? Is this something I’m going to lock myself down to and commit to forever? Is this it? Is this everything?
Maybe it’s official. Maybe my midlife crisis has finally happened.
A few days ago I met up with a pastor. We talked about a lot of things — mostly my frustrations with Christianity. “Isa,” he said earnestly, “What you want is something absolute. But life – and faith – is all about wrestling with the tension. And accepting that it will always be there. On this side of mortality, we are going to struggle with uncertainty ’til the day we die.”
What he’s saying makes a lot of sense. In fact, it’s an amazing admission coming from a man of faith. So this is my reality: that life can be two opposing things at the same time. Because where I am is not so good. Not so good at all. But, you know what? In as much as that is true, it’s not so bad either.
I’d like to think that next week will come with something better.
Stuck in the meantime,