I’ve been very selective through the course of my life about what I take interest in. A lot of that selection process was actually dictated by the interests of others.
For example, I have a younger cousin who I used to spend time with in the summers when we were kids. We did all sorts of things together as we shared much of the same interests. Growing up, she had a fascination with horses. I, at first, shared this fascination.
But, even at a young age, I realized the fierceness of my ability to compete. I didn’t want to put a rivalry between us over something that she obviously held very close to her heart. So, I didn’t pursue my interest merely because I felt, “This is hers.” And, I loved her. Still do. Even if we are older now and haven’t had much chance to connect.
She has a horse farm now, by the way. She doesn’t use it as a means for income. It’s for her personal enjoyment. I love that.
I also grew up next door to a boy about my age who loved basketball. He and I had less in common than my cousin and I. But, I had a bit of interest in learning to play the sport. Until, that is, I witnessed him outside day after day practicing his free throws, jump shots and lay ups.
I joined the softball team in response. No. That is HIS thing.
He ended his high school days as a victorious varsity player. His interest garnered him a full ride to the college of his dreams. He is actually a college professor now who has converted to Buddhism and cohabitates with a Yoga instructor.
However, even within his enlightenment, he can still be found outside shooting hoops, practicing his free throws, jump shots and lay ups.
I’ve never felt bad for leaving these things behind. I don’t feel as if I’ve missed out on much.
Yet, there is one thing that I, personally, have never been able to let go of.
I was first recognized for my writing in the 5th grade. My teacher at the time had requested that each of us write a poem. I’d never written poetry before. I’d never read much of it. But, at the time, I had just realized that my father was in active battle in Vietnam before I was born.
It was the first time the realization hit me. It was excruciating for me to imagine. It was hard, first of all, for me to understand what atrocities existed in a war torn area let alone integrate the fact that my father was in the midst of that for several years in his late teens and early twenties.
This made a huge impact on me. It became the basis for my poem.
My 5th grade teacher didn’t seem to like me, in my view. She often disregarded what I had to say, if she even called upon me to answer a question in her class. So, when she came to me after I turned the poem in with accolades I was a bit surprised. She asked that I make a display of the poem so that she could post it in the hallway near the school office for everyone to see.
So, I took the piece of notebook paper and pasted it onto a red piece of construction paper and added a small illustration of a soldier at war at the bottom.
My poem hung on the school wall all year. There were others posted in time. But, that one, right there, the one on the red paper was mine.
Right now (or maybe I’m just noticing it right now) it seems like everyone and their brother is an aspiring writer. Whether their forte is to construct poetry, blogs, literature or magazine articles, it seems to be an interest of everyone that I meet. And, for a moment, I contemplated withdrawing.
Thankfully, for the sake of my own sanity, I changed my mind and came to the conclusion, “No. This is MINE. The horses were hers. The basketball was his. THIS belongs to me.”
I love words. I love putting them together. I love the feel of a new writing utensil. I love the smell of a fresh new notebook. Walking into a library, bookstore or office supply store is like waking up on Christmas morning for me. I love. I love. I love. THIS is MY thing.