We all have baggage we carry, but the writer’s baggage isn’t heavy.
It’s bags of paper, blank sheets, books we never finished, ideas and stories we meant to write.
These papers are constantly falling from the bag we carry. They fall and land at our feet tripping us up. We are wandering, avoiding making our art, and every step we begin to slip.
In college I had large bags filled but I didn’t know what it was. I thought I could wait tables, go to class, fill my days with long, long hours of work and friends and class. Then onwards I began to crave the ideas, the words, an understanding.
The papers were falling. I slipped and I slipped and I slipped.
That’s ok. I see them now. I watch out and try hard to catch and carry the papers to the desk instead.
To do the work. To be who I am. To create and to tell stories.
What is your baggage?
As she grows old and knows an end is nearing she begins to shed and shrink. First it is the clothes, then it is the weight. She sheds it off naturally, as if unzipping her life.
The first thing to go was jewerly. She hands me ring and earrings, small things she doesn’t want anymore. Then it’s a flowered shirt too long and lanky. I take it.
Next a thick wool jacket, navy blue. It doesn’t fit her right. I take that too.
Won’t I take it all away? Take it and keep it, she says.
The memories are going to go soon too, I supposed. How could I take those too? I want to write down all the sassy one liners. The stories of family, folks I never really knew.
I write the recipes down, scrap papers, then into the cloud. I am trying to catch everything she gives me before her final act of disappearance.
What else were you trying to say?
She is squeezing it all down till there is not much left. Till the weight is lighter and grandma can prepare to fly away. It’s been a heavy life to carry, anyways.
I am always heartbroken when someone tells me they don’t know what they want to do with their life. Then they break my heart further by admitting they don’t care to figure it out.
I think this often comes from a fear of the unknown. We tend to shy away from the adventure of discovering and actively creating yourself. You can be anything you want in the world if you work hard enough (given certain physical limits). This inspiring fact falls flat on the fear of our own creation.
We don’t need a degree. We don’t follow a straight path. There is no ladder to climb, or whatever other myth to success you’d like to throw in there.
Creating your life or finding work you want to do is all about trial and error. You must zig zag around until you find a few things that work well enough to guide you. You must be honest with yourself, and you must make hard decisions along the way.
But first you have to be open to discovery. The best way to discover work you love is through dabbling. We are all professional dabblers. We are all learning, shifting, adjusting, finding new hobby and joys and discarding the failures along the way. We should all aim to professionally dabble.
In Detroit there’s a joke that everyone has a side hussle. But that’s smart. That’s how we shift, grow, and find new passions. We should all have our side hustles.
I once heard someone speak at event who said many are called to Detroit to heal. I think this statement is true to for me at least.
At the time I was about to graduate college my sister was in and out of trouble. Every time I came home visit I had only just missed what I could have prevented, arriving to a break in minutes after, stumbling in after another episode. I couldn’t bare to be away. I thought it would get better if I stayed.
So I came home. I went to grad school. My first and very serious relationship ended. School became difficult. My first post-college job was far from fun. My sister was finally getting better, but I feared the tumult of these troubles piling on. I would count all of these difficulties in a row. It seemed nothing was right. Despite all this, I felt a strange and faint pull of a calling to stay.