Friday, December 21, 2012

Just a quick question......

One thing that growing older--aging to perfection, in other words--has done for me is that I allow myself the luxury of questioning. Everything.

I wasn't one of those kids who asked dozens of questions. Where does the blue come from in the sky? Why can't dogs talk? Where does God hang out when He's not busy?

I tended to accept everything around me, and to be honest, I don't think it was that I was afraid to ask. I don't think it even occured to me to question things that everyone else seemed comfortable with. My dad was the one who put on the Navy uniform in the morning, but all of us were in the military, too. That's how it works and if I recall, that whole system doesn't like being questioned by its masses.

One day the light bulb clicked on in my head, though (or maybe it went off and I was suddenly in the dark about everything), and the sacred was no longer safe with me. I can never quite put my finger on when this happened to me. When I think back, all I can come up with is that age 35 was a demarcation for me. I became a mother and shortly after that, I was no longer a wife. Multiple jobs (simultaneously) and caring for an infant alone don't translate to leading a quiet, tidy existance.

Around that same time, I had a professor who looked at the world through a lens that was angled the slightest degree away from the rest of the world's. I was amazed at how much that tiny angle could change life's entire viewpoint. It intrigued me. 

Whatever the impetus was, I began to question everything. Why? Who? How? When? And once you start, nothing is safe. I have questioned rules, laws, religious tenets.

And people are intimidated by this. To say the least. Maybe it's that they wish they had asked those questions themselves, though. Now they're resentful that I am the one who is having fun doing the asking instead.

But now I know how that professor must feel, almost as if the world has been knocked off its axis. Questions are one thing, but the answers are quite another.

God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there's no turning back.
Gloria Steinem

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unlocking the closet.....

I’m a writer. It only took me 45 years to speak the truth out loud. I don't know what I thought people would do when those words were floated out there for everyone to hear. Run for the exits?

I’ve been writing since I was ten. I wrote an article about the Blue Angels that was published in the base newspaper wherever my dad was stationed at the time. It all runs together after a while when you live the life of a nomad. But I do remember the feeling of pride in my gut as I saw my words --MY words--there in print for everyone to read. 
But I never took myself seriously as a writer, so no one else did, either. My emotions have always poured out on the page, giving a voice to my heart, but to think of myself in those terms was so foreign. Writers were reclusive hermits who couldn't support themselves. Weren't they? 

So, I followed the path of least resistance in college and became a teacher. For fifteen years I taught middle school social studies (not English, though....I even shied away from teaching about words), passing our country's lessons on to a generation that seemed not to care. Later, I dabbled in this and that, putting my strengths in organizational skills and training in the business world for another 15 years, but my heart wasn’t invested there. I was still scribbling behind closed doors, a closet scribe afraid of being outed.

It wasn’t until I attended a meeting of women active in business in my city that I finally accepted--admitted--my calling. During the requisite introductions, I repeated my normal job description like an automaton,  complete with awards and acknowledgments for work accomplished well. For some reason, though, all the years of denying myself, the person in hiding, demanded to be loosed, and my soul as a writer scrabbled at the closed door, sniffing along the crack near the floor. As the last woman finished, I took a deep breath and asked if I could amend my resume. 
All eyes turned and looked at me expectantly. And for the first time, I accepted my role in life: “Good evening, my name is Deborah and I’m a writer.”
Today I tell young people to hold tight to the seams of that one thing that they love to do. Clutch it to their hearts and don't let anyone steal it from them. And the world will try, that's for certain.  But we often lock the door to the closet ourselves.
It took me far too long to give voice to my passion, my very reason for being. Wasted years? I haven't worked that one out yet, because I also believe our paths shape us every step of the way. But it shouldn't take decades to break down the door. 

Chase down your passion like it's the last bus of the night. 
~Terri Guillemets