Autobiography · Personal Development


"Broken Gauges" © Dave Wilson, 2011. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Broken Gauges” © Dave Wilson, 2011. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Before I really know what’s happening I find myself on craigslist. Job hunting. Not for any reason in particular. It’s not a necessity. I just want something to do besides writing. Because writing is hard and working for someone else would be easy.

I fantasize about having a boss, about making coffee again, about learning to redesign an old website. I daydream about working in retail, about employee discounts, about clocking in. I catch myself wishing someone would come into my room and tell me how to spend my time. A paycheck to show I’m contributing something. A good answer to the, “So what do you do?” question.

It’s the same struggle I’ve faced for years. The same valley I’ve found myself in again and again when my writing gets scary and uncomfortable. I see it stretching out in front of me, all introspection and vulnerability. And instead of trudging forward into it, I want to turn tail and run.

So many pieces of partially finished projects scattered on the floor that I feel like I never get anything done. It doesn’t build into anything. It’s just a thin coating. I have created no mountains, no mole hills. I haven’t stayed committed, haven’t buckled down hard enough to build. I have done the easy thing instead.

And I’m tired of that. Tired of taking the easy way out. The easy way in. Tired of not living up to the potential my mom keeps telling me I have. Tired of making excuses for why I haven’t done this or that or stayed interested long enough for things to really pan out. I’m tired of committing half-heartedly and then pretending I don’t care when nothing happens.

I want to make big goals. I want to accomplish big things. I want to stop worrying so much about what I think other people expect of me. I want to do the deep digging and find out what it is I’m really after. Because I have my suspicions that it does not involve a nine-to-five job in an office.

I know it doesn’t.

The things I build my dreams out of are written words published in places other than this blog. They’re longer form stories that I spend weeks revising. They’re rejection letters and late nights. They’re all sweat and sobbing. Tired eyes and worn down keyboards. I build my dreams on long runs and heavy lifts. On failed pull up attempts. On early mornings and long phone calls with friends. And it’s time I start being okay with it.

Because I’m never going to make anyone else happy without making myself happy first. I’m never going to live up to someone else’s expectations if I just made them up in my head. I’m never going to be fulfilled by doing what I think other people want me to. That’s the recipe for a life of resentment and exhaustion. That’s exactly the thing I don’t want to do.

So let’s do something new.

Mental Health · Writing

One Thing

Slow – Hwy 101 old growth” © Sam Bebee, 2005. CC BY 2.0.

I tell myself to do just one thing. Put clothes on. Eat something. Open up my computer and write a sentence, a word. One thing. Just one.

Then I think of how it will compound. How one thing leads to another and that’s how everything gets built. I lose track quickly of how important just focusing on the first step is. I start to zoom in on how all those little pieces will join together to make something I deem worthwhile. Then I’m not thinking about each individual part anymore. I’m thinking about the entire lifespan of the thing. Seeing the tree in the seed.

But there are seeds that never become trees at all. And trees that never soar above me. Never make me feel safe and small and powerful and insignificant all at once. Trees that turn into tables or door frames. Paper for notebooks. Trees that burn in fires. That live high in mountains, where the air is thin, and put in everything they can, but never get over three feet tall.

And I’m reminded not to get too caught up in the building. Not to cling too hard to the idea that one thing always becomes another and another. Or that it always needs to. Sometimes one thing is just that. You write one sentence and then you curl up on the floor and sob for the rest of the day. And that’s okay.

You don’t have to get bogged down by the bigness of the possibility. Not every word has to be part of the next great American novel. Not every day has to be dripping with productivity. Has to have tangible accomplishments to point to.

Not every seed exists to become towering.

Autobiography · Poetry


Bud” © Thangaraj Kumaravel, 2012. CC BY 2.0.
It’s waiting for you.
On the back burner for so long
you’ve forgotten about it completely.

It’s sitting at the table in a restaurant.
Waiting patiently for you to leave that job
you don’t even like
and make it to dinner.


It’s underneath a stack of half-finished books
and another mostly empty journal.
Corners of the pages folded,
marking all those inspiring quotes
about places to go and things you’ll do

It’s somewhere in the back of your fridge.
Tucked between a jar of pickles
and boxes from that take-out place you don’t even like,
but walk by on your way home.

It’s another collection of sentences that start
with words like “when the time is right” and “someday” and “after I…”.

You can always find another reason
you can’t find the time
or do it right now.
You are never wanting for extended timelines.
Two-year plans that are pushed out to five, then ten.

An entire life condensed down to
all the things you said you’d do,
but didn’t.