My Epiphany, Three Years in the Making
Growing up with my head in the clouds, I’ve largely been happiest alone with my thoughts and dreams. As strange as I seemed to other kids, they seemed equally strange to me. I could not understand the allure of their interests. My imagination served as my longest and closest best friend. We enjoyed each other’s company more than baseball, wrestling, or fishing. Exceptions came occasionally.
With few close friends and fewer prospects for employment in West Virginia, I joined the navy. Eventually I set aside my imagination for ‘more important’ things. I kept my daydreaming to myself.
When I finished my naval career I didn’t easily slip into a second career. I jumped from job to job. Once I could confidently and proudly tell people, “I’m a submariner,” or, “I’m a chief in the navy.” Without those labels, without that uniform; I felt lost, without an identity.
As a hotel desk clerk, in the middle of the night, I searched for ways to stay awake while simultaneously seeking a new career and a new identity. If only I might turn my daydreaming distracted mind to some useful purpose. On of my few epiphanies struck. I know, I’ll write.
Clueless and thrilled I wrote. Long solitary nights behind the hotel desk became therapeutic and productive.
Bills piled up so I changed jobs often, each time earning more, each time writing less.
A brain tumor diagnosis sent my life for a loop. Again I wrote less.
December 5th 2007; a lengthy surgery and a short coma later I emerged altered. Aside from the obvious physical changes, my spirit also changed. I didn’t know it then. I denied it any time my actions came into question. Early in my new life denial reigned supreme.
Only in retrospect, years down the road I looked back amazed. The paths chosen provided irrefutable evidence. I left the hospital a different person. Some say I’ve become emotionally immature. They might be right in general. Passionate conversations come more readily. The rudder of my heart makes tighter turns, leaving a larger wake. The biggest, the best alteration in my life’s perception came with a deepened desire to pursue my passions. My love for my wife ran deeper and my drive to write burned brighter.
One day I spied a poster; a writer’s workshop. Giddily I go. Reading my work to others for the first time set me all a quiver. Patiently they listened. Anxiously I heard their critique afterward. My clumsy first works garnered few positive reviews. Well imagined tales failed to leap from my mind to the page without losing something along the way.
Driving home from those initial meetings I recognized the first sign of being on the right track by writing. Most times I tried learning something new, initial failures dashed my hopes and deflated my desire. This time critical commentary excited me. Instead of stinging, the exposed flaws offered hope. Though awful at first, I sought to salvage each sliver of universal truth from the trash heap. Each encounter helped hone my skills and sharpen the focus of my story’s purpose.
As my fervor grew to write I also diversified my projects. I put aside my science fiction manuscript and wrote short stories on a variety of subjects. I wrote articles for my company’s newsletter and the local newspaper.
Looking back now I smile. Writing seems so obvious a path. My identity lost is now an identity proudly found. And now as a writer a new dream dawns. I dream of others reading my work and falling in love with my characters as I have. I dream of putting a smile on a reader’s face, a tear on their cheek, and a gasp in their throat.