This essay came out of my Morning Pages. It is not edited, nor have I gone over it to make it "pretty;" it is raw, authentic, and revealing.
In a week, I'll be halfway to 26. It's an age I never really thought about; the gap between early 20's and 30 one that was supposed to be a blur of late nights spent writing and 18 hour days in sunny southern California. At 22, I was there – the late nights spent hunched over a keyboard or mapping out acts in scripts, days on a TV lot learning from those before, who'd done it.
I learned I don't want to write scripts. I didn't enjoy hammering out storylines about characters I could care less about. This revelation came as a surprise, as writing with other people's characters was exactly why I'd gotten into all that in the first place. I think it was the pressure of having to live up to something established with a much harsher group of critics. I couldn't indulge, or be silly.
What I learned was that I wanted to help develop ideas. See that seed grow and blossom. While others focused on their scripts, I became a sounding board, talking through ideas and plot devices, finding joy when something just clicked for them. Did my own script suffer? Absolutely. But at the cost of discovering more, and it was 100% worth it.
But as I lean toward 25 ½ (counting as a child, but unhappy about the halfway mark instead of overjoyed), I haven't done anything with all that. Instead of sunny LA, I'm back in the midwest, sitting on the front porch of the house I came to age in with nothing to show for my college education but an overdue final bill and student loans on the edge of default.
I'm not here against my will. Seeing the work I'd have to put into the field I'd chosen, I had to make a choice: push my body to the limit and live the current dream through a haze of painkillers and constant relapses, or go home and allow things to unfold at a slower pace.
Since I'm here in Chicago, and not LA, the path I chose is obvious.
While most of the time I'm cursing my body for it's shortcomings, broken bits, and imposed limits, I am deeply thankful for them. They force me to slow down. I remember my first weeks living downtown, how everyone moved so fast along the crowded sidewalks, pushing past me and my leisurely pace. I saw more, observed, and felt more, moving slower. Yes, it took some time to reconcile the reality that I simply couldn't move with everyone else, but the beauty of what going slower revealed – I felt fuller and more alive.
And so, nearing 26, my days are spent writing and painting. Giving advice to friends. Teaching. In the years since my big decision, I have gone from not being able to work at all to 30 hours a week on my feet. I took it a day at a time, listening to the rhythms of my body and the voice of the Divine answering my prayers for guidance. My days are bursting with possibility tempered by a disease that gives me no choice by to pace myself, go bit by bit. I have to live now, pay close attention to how I'm feeling and reacting to what I'm doing. If it hurts, I stop – plain and simple.
If only everyone had this internal sensor to guide them, they wouldn't be stuck doing things they don't enjoy, going through life at a breakneck pace! I must weigh my choices carefully and decide if they are worth the consequences.
And I did. Sitting here, listening to the cicadas buzz, the chirping and songs of nature, I am content with the knowledge that life will unfold for me as it will. I'm in no rush. By listening to my soul, I've embarked on an uncharted path I can take my time to explore and experience, the Divine at my side, helping me along the way.