Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I — like hopefully all of you — have a lot to be thankful for: There are people in my life who really love me and whom I love. My body is healthy. I have an income. I have no real unmet need of any kind. I have the possibility of tomorrow, and, unlike other times in my life, I’m actually excited about that possibility.
In addition to all these things, this year I am also thankful for this, this blog and what it represents. When I started ToHearLife.com back in June, I had two main goals: to make writing an integral part of my life, and to get over my fear of other people reading what I write. These were for the purpose of the greater goal, which is to one day be a full-time writer. While I’m still millions of words and countless submissions away from that goal, I’m grateful that I have achieved the first two goals of making writing an essential part of my life and being, not only unafraid, but desirous of people reading what I write (cut to me checking my blog stats every night before bed).
But beyond helping me meet my current writing goals, this blog has also been helpful in ways I hadn’t foreseen. It’s pushed me forward, not only in my literary aspirations, but also in the mental, emotional, spiritual, and even social aspects of my life.
He stood nervously on the ledge, his hands flung back to grip the steel railing. It was winter, and he could feel the skin on his fingers stick to the metal. But the cold didn’t matter. He had finally gathered the courage to come out here to the very edge, and all that was left was to take the final step forward. He looked down to the street below. There was no one there. It was just him and the silver light of the stars.
He inched forward so that only the soles of his bare feet remained on the cement. He leaned forward and felt his chest expand at the stretch. He squeezed his hands tighter around the railing. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, wanting to feel the cold air flow through his body and into his lungs as slowly as possible. He wanted to feel everything, for once in his life.
One more breath, he thought. One more breath, and then one last step. One more breath, and then…
“Patrick,” a woman’s voice said.
There is a figure lurking by the window.
There is a mist scrolling in through the cracks in the wall.
I lie down and close my eyes.
There is a shuffling coming from behind the door.
There is a banging sounding from the ceiling.
I press my hands against my ears.
I feel cold against my skin.
I feel a shadow on my lips.
I flinch and try to move away, but I’m already on my back.
(Listen as you read for a fuller experience.)
I walk out the glass doors and briskly head down the street in my worn, dirty clothes. There’s a thought of running, of flying, of going away, but I’m bound by these chains that will let me go only so far, so I settle for a careless walk, for as long as the energy beneath my dirty feet will take me.
People stream by dressed in pressed suits and done nails and neat haircuts. I’m not the lowest of the low on the street, so I get by, but not without the clean people’s sidelong glances of judgment and false concern. What is she doing here? Why is she this way? I feel them ask silently, none of them caring to wait for the answers that will only defile their air and waste my time.
But it’s all the same to me, so I walk farther on. For all the weight and short length of these chains, they’re not strong enough to keep me from the wind, from the lights, from the sounds continually in my head. The shackles bite my ankles and I leave a trickle of blood on block after block of these city streets, like permanent breadcrumbs for judges to follow if they try to come get me. But I don’t really mind and I’ll walk as far as I can go, right to the edge: Here I am, on the verge of the water again, with only me and ununderstood powers to keep me from slipping to a final end.
One of my closest friends is going through a really great time in his life. More than great, it’s seminal for his life being just what he wants it to be in the very near future. As he’s shared with me the steps he’s worked so hard to take that are leading him to the future he wants and will soon have, I’ve been thinking about what my own life being just what I want it to be would look like.
I know I want to someday make my living as a writer. I know I want to someday find someone I love who loves me back. These are fine, perfectly normal goals. The second one is virtually universal. The first one may not be as common (and will require millions of words more to accomplish), but neither are impossible nor out of the ordinary. If 10 years from now I am a professional writer in a healthy, long-term relationship, no one will stop and stare in wonder.
These are my two goals when I am well and stable. This is what I want for my life when my thinking is clear, my mind is healthy, and my view of reality is un-skewed. This is good because it means there are attainable desires I’ve pinpointed that I can work and hope for. What’s not so good is that my thinking many times isn’t clear, my mind isn’t always healthy, and my view of reality often is skewed, as though I’m looking through a sheet of cracked glass. These two goals I have – writing and love – are my goals only when I am well, and that hasn’t usually been the norm.