Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remind Me How

I’ve started five or six blog entries now and then either never finished them or never posted them (and this entry took me over two weeks to write). The truth is, I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything to say on this blog for months now, and everything I write has seemed forced. But I’m ready to try it again.

There were some things I determined at the beginning of the summer. Despite working full time and having many other responsibilities to deal with, I decided I wasn’t going to let myself spend the whole thing clinging to the misery of the semester, convincing myself I couldn’t enjoy things.

Since starting college, I have left huge parts of who I used to be behind. I stopped reading. I stopped writing, except for occasional poetry. I stopped caring about cloaks and swords. Over the past few months, I’ve started convincing myself that I have no right to enjoy music. I stopped caring about spending time with even my best friends, on the rare occasion when I go out of state to see them (or even when they come here).

This summer I’ve decided to fight to rediscover some of the things I once enjoyed. I am perhaps a contradiction-- a pessimist who refuses to give up on hope. And maybe that’s a part of this. Regardless, one of the best examples of this has been writing.

I’ve been telling stories from the time I was a very small kid. Before I could write, I was making stories by drawing pictures. From the time I could trace out clumsy words with awful spelling, I was writing stories. I started my first novel at age 11, and always had a novel in progress after that. I have met almost all of my closest friends through the writing forum I’m part of. But that part of me seemed to die when I started college. I didn’t have time for writing, and then even when I tried, I couldn’t enjoy it anymore. The best reason for it that I could find was that I’d become so focused on responsibilities and on simply staying sane that I no longer had any emotional energy to invest in telling stories.

Every summer on the writing forum I’m part of, we have our own version of NaNoWriMo, which we call SuNoWriMo. Last year when I tried it, it went terribly. Every word was a miserable fight. The characters would not seem to grow. I barely managed to write the bare minimum, and even as I finished I knew I would have to throw everything I’d done away because it had no heart in it.

I’m not sure what happened this summer. The best thing I can attribute it to is that since the moot last year I have developed the ability to really find joy in things despite outside circumstances. I have already written far more than I did last year, and the month isn’t over yet. Almost every evening I’ve been gathering with a group of good friends to word war (seeing who can write the most words in a set amount of time). This is also a first for me-- in the past years, there’s only been one person who I would agree to word war with. My characters have come to life for me, and the story keeps moving. Most importantly, I have rediscovered the joy of crafting words.

One day I was especially brave. I wore a cloak again while writing, for the first time in months. Cloaks are another thing that I have almost given up on, due to some negative experiences at school.

And so I am discovering all over again that sometimes happiness in small things is important, and that we have so much more joy than we realize if we are just willing to open our eyes and look past circumstances. I get so caught up in responsibility and business and hurry, work and school and finances and life, that I forget sometimes to find moments of quiet delight in beautiful things... things that remind me again of who I am.

I am learning again how to enjoy things. And maybe that’s a good thing.

I hope you have things you can enjoy, and I hope you take the time to do so. Sometimes things are worth doing simply because the quiet joy they bring makes us feel more alive.

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- Elraen -