When I was about nine years old, I had enough awareness to think of myself as a writer and a poet. It wasn’t an urgent calling, but more like an understanding of the mystical bridges between the images and feelings of my world, binding together in the beauty of words. Soon my little rhymes turned into a serious passion, and by the time I was in high school, I was wearing a red beret as proof of my poet status.
I spent my youth and college years in a steady stream of undoubted devotion to writing. I explored all forms, sought out many poets (new and old) and filled many journals and typed pages with my ongoing observations. I rode on this poetic status right through graduate school, and on into academic readings, papers, teaching, and even further back into a thesis manuscript of poetic memoir and a free narrative exploration inspired by some stories in my family history.
In 2009 I defended my thesis, and it seems, checked out of my poet status. I, like many good graduate students, had reached a state of burnout. I lost touch with the romantic edge of poetry and found myself separated from the world which I had been blinded too.
Losing a passion for poetry is not unlike losing a lover. I found myself unprepared for life away from my graduate school foundations. I had little appetite for more school. I and loosened many contacts, as my fellow grad students went on to do various other pursuits. In this loss of community, I felt myself sink further into isolation from my former creative. I did other things:
I adopted a dog. I got married. I got a job as a nanny and another part time job working with teens. I turned 30 then 31,32,33,34 and on.
I tried, ever so slowly, to work on my writing, but I felt lost. The self-assurance that I had in my teens and 20s would have been quick to judge the 30+woman I had become, for failing her own high and charismatic expectations. I felt myself drifting into a place of excuses, and self-pity, and sadness
Moving to Amsterdam created an even wider gap between myself and my community. My friends and family were far away and I found myself in an unfamiliar place. There were new barriers of language, culture and my brain sweat to keep up with the steep curve of new experiences. I didn’t always rise to the challenge. I spent a lot of time feeling hurt and scared and alone.
As I have come to the first annum of my arrival. I had to make a commitment to get out of my lostness. I had to force myself to feel some sense of connection, or admit defeat and return home.
While I got some satisfaction out of returning to writing, there was an element of isolation that comes with being an artist in a new city. It is so easy to hide behind technology, inside Facebook, behind the safety of a screen.
I need face to face connection, and I need to create a community for myself and others like me. People need this type of connection.
There are so many things that make people feel separated: age, language, politics, religion, gender, life experience, beliefs, technology (to name a few). It is so easy to allow these separations to make us feel like failures. It is so easy to allow the loudest voices in the world to crush our beautiful sensitivities into dust.
Now is the time to stop hiding behind a screen. The best writing brings people together, inviting all who partake in the story to link together into a common world. A good story gets us in touch with ourselves, a good story shows us our commonalities. Returning to that childhood dream of being a writer (a dream that never really left). It has challenged me to quickly get out of my own sense of failure. I had to force myself into a revitalized sense of self.