Yesterday I got together with family for our third annual ‘Early Thanksgiving Dinner’.
Around my cousin Becky’s table I gathered with two of my uncles (my dad’s brothers) and my aunts (their wives) and my cousin Phil and his wife.
I look forward to this each year now for many reasons. I enjoy spending time with everyone there. I enjoy having the boys get to know their extended family better. I enjoy being surrounded by people who love me and love the boys, and showing the boys the importance of doing something like this.
This year was a bit different for me. My uncles told stories about my dad, who passed away in May. None of the stories were bad…in fact they were quite humorous, and very ‘Dad’. I laughed openly, and yet inside of me there was this dull ache. Ache at the fact that all these stories are of the past now. Ache for the years I missed with my dad. Ache that I can’t go visit him, repeat these stories to him that I’ve just learned, and share a laugh with him over it.
On the way home I told the boys a few things about the uncles and aunts that I recall from when I was a kid. I told them that the memories I related to them are so fresh that it’s difficult to imagine I’m approaching fifty years of age. Not that it’s that old, just…fifty….wow. In just the time it took me to blink my eyes I was eleven…I was fifteen…I was nine…I was someone very different from the me I am today.
Life is short…too short…and moves so quickly.
Earlier today I replied to someone’s Facebook post that whenever I take a ‘what career should you have’ test, either online or on paper, I always get ‘writer’….always. Even back as far as middle school. I get writer…every time.
So, there’s that.
I have written on and off for most of my life. I began by writing a short story about a person who pulls over on Christmas Eve to help someone in a Santa Claus suit who appears to have broken down and has their car hood up. The ‘Santa’ kills the person, steals their car, and drives off. It was called ‘Have Yourself A Deadly Little Christmas’.
I was nine when I wrote it.
My mother and her friend Shirley were playing Scrabble at the dining room table. When the story was finished I took it to my mother and let her read it. It was only a couple of (handwritten) pages long, dripping with menace and malice and soaked in blood. Mom’s face, when she finished reading it, was a mixture of pride, revulsion, and shock. Had she spoken her true feelings, they might have been, ‘Good for you, even though it’s a little gory, and do I need to worry about you?’ Instead she said, ‘That’s nice…very nice.’ and nothing more.
I’ve never tried to have a career with it. I’ve not historically submitted anything for publication. Even having this blog is more exposure than my introverted nature has allowed me to have for most of my life. I’ve written in a nice safe little way…for me. I’ve not let people read my writing except on RARE occasion.
Lately I’ve decided to change that. I’ve submitted a piece to a forthcoming ‘Chicken Soup For The ______Soul’ publication, and another to a magazine geared toward children.
I’m a bit nervous, and a bit impatient to get either an acceptance or a rejection. To get anything….
What changed my nice, safe hoarding of my writing (other than on this blog) that I’ve carved out as my little creative outlet niche over the years? Simple. Life is too short to do it.
Yesterday I was nine writing a slasher story. Tomorrow I’ll be a hundred and might not remember anything I’ve ever committed to paper…or that I liked to write…or what paper even was. I might not even know it’s tomorrow. Things like that happen.
If it does, if we no longer remember anything about our life or even how to stand up and sit down, then all of our regrets that we carry throughout our lives disappear as well.
But so does the chance to do something about them.
I’ve decided to change that, or at least try to. If the pieces I submitted are selected, excellent. If not…I’ll keep trying. I won’t hide in a corner and decide that I’m a complete failure and every letter of every word and every sentence I ever wrote must be an abomination. I’ll just try again somewhere else, with something else, and keep trying.
I could just avoid trying. I could just continue to write for myself, and call it real and call it good. But if I don’t ever try to do something with it, I’ll never know if all those tests were correct. I’m a bit scared to find out, but….not so scared that I’ll let it keep me from trying.
Life is too short.