One of the things I have been wondering about lately is when, if ever, is it time to walk away? Or more specifically: at what age do we accept that our dreams are something for our younger selves and are best left back in our more idealistic days rather than still held onto by our middle-aged selves. I find myself thinking that if I had started this book or that collection of poetry twenty or even thirty years ago my career could have been this or that. I begin equating the years I could have had with the quantity I could have produced and therefore had a longer ramp to run up, jump off of to catapult myself out of obscurity.
But even more than this idea of loss of years I see how much easier it is to be reckless and experimental at twenty or thirty. I'm constantly overshadowed by the idea that at a certain age our faces are too creased, hair too grey, bodies too soft, which suddenly equates to being out of touch and not relevant in this daily life consumed with selfies and zero wrinkles on twenty-year-old beauties.
So I constantly fight this outer vs. inner battle that my outward appearance and all of the time I have walked this earth has somehow added up to making me lesser rather than more. That my experiences have, at some indefinable line, become antiquated and not worth as much. And how this idea, even though I fight it constantly, causes me to doubt the things I want to write, the projects I want to start and the contacts I want to make.
I often compensate by researching the age at which this one had their first novel published or that one finally got their degree. I use these things to tell myself it's okay that I had to start so late. I placate myself with the idea that it is never too late or that there is always time. But really, is there?
Can that twenty year old writer in me really come to the surface with all that idealism after all that I have seen, lived through and survived? And, if she does, how does she fit in with the writer I am today? How does that hope-filled wide-eyed writer collide with this more realistic me that understands that life is rarely fair, even or equitable?
But even more importantly, how do I tell her that yes, we survived the path we chose but the surviving leaves so many scars? How do I tell her that even though these scars heal, the skin forever tugs at these things left behind. How do I warn her that these scars also remember? They remember everything.
- ► 2011 (11)