Do you remember your earliest childhood days? Those days when anything was possible, those days when being a pirate or an astronaut were equally likely? Anything, and I mean anything was possible. I remember being in the garage on day and I had some scrap wood, a hammer and a nail. I found two likely sticks of wood and nailed them together so one piece was perpendicular to the other. It was a masterpiece and the best airplane the world had ever seen. I spent the entire day going on adventures with my plane, all around the yard with the boundless energy only a six year old possesses.
Today, as an adult, I’d look at that youngster and simply smile. Certainly I’d never shatter his illusion that two sticks badly nailed together could ever fly. I’d never tell him his adventures were all in his mind and could never possibly come true. That would be cruel. Yet, at some point, those things were taught to that youngster. He came to realize what was possible and what wasn’t. He came to understand that the wood and hammer and nail he used to build his world was a waste of time. He put those things aside, never to be looked back upon. They were slowly forgotten.
I have a blog where I write about my retirement in Tennessee. I have a friend named Quinn who stops by from time to time to help me understand the world around me. I’ll be making a post there in the next day or so concerning his latest lessons. The other day he asked a rather bizarre question. It was something like, “Can you remember what you’ve forgotten?” My immediate thought was to respond with, “Of course not.” However, when you’ve known Quinn as long as I have you understand the immediate response is usually the wrong one. I instead, after a few minutes of contemplation answered with, “No, I don’t believe so.” He answered with a statement, uncharacteristic for him because ninety percent of the time he only asks questions. His response was simply, “Try.”
That statement led, a few days later, to me being in a small coffee shop on a hot day. I didn’t want coffee but I noticed they had a cooler filled with different soft drinks. I spotted a bottle of grape soda and took it to a table to simply enjoy the coolness of the beverage. I gave the flavor no thought really, it was cool and wet and that’s all I cared about at that moment.
When I took the first sip, Quinn’s statement hit me like a sledgehammer. I have not had a grape soda since I was a kid. It was one of my favorites. All of the sweetness, bubbles, and sugary freshness came back to me like opening a chest and finding it loaded with treasure. At that moment all the possibilities of the world were available to me. Just for a few moments, anything was possible. I had forgotten the taste of one of my favorite drinks. I had forgotten that, if I wanted, I could be a pirate or an astronaut. For a brief moment, the chains of adulthood I had been bound with were gone and I was free to imagine anything and if I could imagine it, it could be real.
Which brings me to today’s post. One by one, over the tears, we forge the links of our own chains. We tell ourselves that simple wooden airplanes can’t fly, will never fly. Click. We tell ourselves there are no such things as pirates and in order to become an astronaut you have to go through years of training. We can never be one. Click. One by one we bind ourselves with the links of thick chain. How many links? Hard to say really. Every time you tell yourself you can’t do something I think one more snaps into place.
Yet, as writers, at least fiction writers, we try to convince the world anything is possible. We write, already starting with a handicap of not believing it ourselves. Have you every listen to anyone trying to make a convincing argument when he or she doesn’t believe what they’re saying. It’s tone deaf, it’s flat, it’s unconvincing. On the other hand, listen to someone talking about something they have a passion about. They grab you, they pick you up and sweep you along with their passion and fervor. Like a child, their believe gives them a boundless energy.
I honestly believe that, as writers, we have to be like children. That rough wooden plane can fly, it can go one adventures, it can change the world. We have to shed the chains we put upon ourselves and believe in our imagination. We can write, we can weave a story people will enjoy. We can write about astronauts or pirates. We can bring them to life. We can make them real.
What do you want to be? A writer? Then make it happen. Start with remembering what you’ve forgotten. Start with realizing anything is possible. Stop telling yourself it’s too hard or you don;t have the time, you don’t have the skill, that no one will read your work and that you’re just not good enough. Those are the chains you need to shed. It is possible. Go find your own personal grape soda, whatever it is and remember how much was possible, is possible now.
What do you want to be? With the eyes of a child, see it and be it.