The older you get, the quicker it goes.
The longer you spend on this crazy spinning ball in space, the shorter the rotations feel. You look out the window and its spring, ten minutes later the leaves are falling off of the trees.
Once you couldn’t wait for the day you got your driver’s license, now you wonder when they’ll take it away from you.
When you were five, waiting for Christmas took a whole year. Now, you walk down the aisles looking for school supplies and catch a sneaky sales associate hanging red and green decorations up before ninja-rolling away.
In the first years of my daughters’ lives, when I was knee-deep in diapers, breast milk leaks, and potty training, it seemed as though the days lasted a metric eternity. Fumbling through them in a sleep-deprived haze felt as though I was merely keeping my head, and theirs, above water until we could find a life raft. We caught hold of that raft as toilet training found success, solid food was accepted, preschool gave precious hours, and sleep became regular.
But if life does one thing consistently, it’s change. Soon we were tossed onto a high-speed train that barreled us into full-day school, sleep overs, sports, novels to finish, and standardized tests. There are days that feel like I’m leaping from log to log in a river that’s quickly rushing over the edge of the world. The faster I go, the more logs I have to step on and the faster the current rolls beneath me. I cannot seem to get ahead in these moments, let alone enjoy the journey. I am on a high-speed train that’s rushing through life and I feel like I’ve no way to slow it down.
This blog is about writing and creativity but these things are intrinsically interwoven with life; the life we develop to foster our writing and the life that detracts from it.
Writing well takes a mind that looks out of the window of that train and holds fast to the details as they pass; a mind that can slow down the images, stop them consciously, and create a memory of that moment in time. The things that people say, the expressions they give, the exact cut of pain in times of trial, and the saccharine flavor of unbridled joys that unexpectedly opened up to us. Writing gives us all a tool to record these moments in vibrant detail as we live them.
This is not an easy task. Often we are stunned and hypnotized by the blur. The modern and tech savvy world around us is not conducive to stopping. We don’t have time to smell the roses (but I’m sure there’s an app for that). Its our job as human beings to close our eyes from time to time, put our hands and feet firmly down and say, stop. The world, in its twirling chaos, doesn’t control everything. We are still the masters of our own perception.
Those first few drowning years of my children’s lives were a blur. I could barely string together two complete sentences verbally, let alone write any. All I have are dusty images, fading in my memory, of preschool and summer picnics. But if I could go back, I’d yell at myself to write something, anything, every day that had meaning in the moment.
Write about the first time you saw your father cry. Write down the empty pit of excitement that tumbled in your guts when you left home for the first time. Write about the warmth or dread that filled you when you came back home. Write down the first words your partner ever spoke to you; write down the last. Write down the exact way you felt at your darkest and most hopeless, drenched in baby spit up and running full speed with no food, sleep, or even a shower to make you feel even the slightest bit human. Write the tearful elation when the feeling of their tiny hands in yours brought you up and out of the darkness, and made you remember that there were things worth not showering for.
Remembering the moments gives meaning to the efforts it took to get you there.
I urge you, gentle reader, to write about what catches your eye out the window of your train. It doesn’t matter if it’s the exclusive light of the sun on a butterfly’s wings or the painful swollen skin around your eyes from the first day of kindergarten. It doesn’t matter if it’s the dark, bloody wound of a broken heart, or the open calm of finally becoming yourself. Writing in the moment is best, when the colors are brightest; when the pain is most gut wrenching, when the joy is most empowering. Write the deep and cutting moments down, even if they scare you.
Write, today. You won’t remember life the same way tomorrow.
Record the moments, if not for you, then as evidence that the 100-year-blink-of-an-eye life we are gifted, truly happened.