Life is tough. We live through struggle and strife. We fight through problem after problem…and meet new problems when we are done with other problems. And there is difficulty in seeing the light at the end of the problem-filled tunnel. But, the journey is what builds our character. We find ways to make life joyful and meaningful. We invest in hobbies and spend time with the ones we love. And we figure out ways to use our passions in life to fuel our goals and create stability for our families and loved ones. And as a parent, those paths we take often require sacrifice and throw us into more “unknown” territory. Any new change in life will bring fear, but as parents we have to make tough decisions to better the future of our families. These adventures through life are my inspiration for writing. I take the pain that I have been throughout my life and turn them into stories. If you knew me personally, you would know that I am not normally at a loss for words. But, the constant battle of words are much louder in my head. I second guess myself, my ability, and my purpose in this world. But, luckily I have daily reminders to reaffirm what I need to do….my wife and daughter.
Finding one’s passion in life is scary. As kids, we wanted to be policemen, firemen, or doctors. But, through our schooling we start to discover what are talents are. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comedian. I remember watching a comedy special and seeing a man with the power to make thousands of people laugh out loud. I wanted to do that. I wanted to make jokes and make people happy. My mother was not too happy about the idea.
Me at 8 years old: Mom, i want to be a comedian. How come school doesn’t teach you to be funny?
Mom: Because that’s not a real job….school teaches you things to help you do well in your job.
Me at 8 years old: Really? Then why do I have a Handwriting class? I don’t want to be a professional handwriter.
Mom: Well, even if there was a job called handwriter you would get fired. Your handwriting looks like chicken scratch.
So, there went that dream. But, my childhood was rough…and there was a purpose behind it. It helped me develop a sense of humor and a deep sympathy for children who went though what I went through. I learned to take the mental, verbal, and physical abuse and turn it into jokes. And It was the only way my sister and I got through those tough times. And I had a penchant for stories. I remember in third grade, Mrs. Jones would stop class to let me read a story I wrote. That happened every other day. I knew back then that I loved to write, but didn’t know that writing was a career also.
Me at 9: Mom! I want to write stories…stories that make people laugh. I want to write.
Mom: But, how can people read your stories? They can’t read your handwriting.
Me at 9: I know I know…chicken scratch.
So I tabled that dream. But, it never went away. In college, I wrote essay after essay and loved it. The mechanics of it, the creativity behind it, even the way it looked fresh out of a printer. Let’s make a checklist of my discovered skills so we can figure out what I am meant to be:
1. A sense of humor
2. A passion for writing
Hmm…doesn’t add up to much. But, that changed during freshman year of high school.
For some reason I wanted to run for class president, not sure why but it probably had to do with some girl. That was usually how I made my decisions back then. I had to write a speech and say it in front of the whole freshman class. I was nervous. But, I wanted my speech to have everything. And it did….it had jokes, facts, music…and even a little dance routine at the end. All done by me. It was ridiculous, but I needed all the votes I could get. I wrote my speech and rehearsed it for hours. I asked two friends to help me with the musical part. One of them messed up the order of music and threw my whole speech off. I stood there mortified and the crowd just stared at me. So I improvised and made jokes on the fly. And the fear disappeared. I learned I had no problem speaking in front of crowds. (I won the election by the way.)
1. A sense of humor
2. A passion for writing
3. Fearless in public speaking
Ok, not sure what to do with that yet. But, my daughter being born became the last puzzle piece. Becoming a parent changes you. I loved being around kids already, but I paid much more attention to the trouble that our children face every day. I would read about crimes against children and it would fill my heart with such sadness and anger. But, it was a helplessness. I didn’t know what I could do to help children. But, adding this desire to help children and make a difference gave me my sense of purpose. The dream to become a teacher began. Being a teacher would utilize all those things on my list and allow me the ability to help and mentor children. Children face a much different world than when we were children. There was no such thing as cyber-bullying when I was younger. And it breaks my heart to hear from kids who are being bullied every single day. Could I prevent violence between kids or violence against kids? Who knows….but being a teacher would put me in a position where I could do something about it.
Today’s daily prompt spurred me. Because as writers, we need to find inspiration from wherever we can get it. It can be a lovely sunset, a suppressed memory, love that you feel for those close to you, or even a smile from a stranger. I look at pictures of my wife and daughter and it leads me to why I need to follow my dreams. How can I tell my daughter that she can be whatever her heart desires….but look in the mirror and see that I don’t follow my own advice. But I am never at a loss for inspiration because of my wife and daughter.