I am a character-focused writer and reader. I like to observe and share human stories and analyze what makes us us. In general, I think people are beautiful and interesting, and when I see or feel something particularly wonderful, sad, funny, frightening, or strange, I get this urge, an instinct, to find someone and tell them about it.
Most of the time, I’m glad to be a storyteller. It’s my niche in my family and friends. It connects all of these disparate parts of myself: science, cooking, creating, critiquing… Through stories, I can also make sense of the parts of my life that seem incomprehensible and too painful to explore. The characters are my roots in the earth, the kindling to my fire when I confront my inner and outer demons.
But… there are consequences to this as well, when the connection becomes the demon. There have been times when I’ve drifted so far into others’ lives that I’ve lost track of my own. I’ve spent days, and when I was younger, years, in other worlds. When I returned from these strange, beautiful places, it felt like waking up from a dream. And I seemed so mundane by comparison. Enough so that even if I was drawn to someone in real life, I couldn’t imagine their life intertwined with mine, couldn’t bring myself to take the steps that might bring me there.
When this became too miserable, someone looking out for me pulled me down from the clouds, dusted me off, and made me walk again. She showed me how to do mindful acts that bring me back to the present, while still enabling me to tap into my creative well.
It took me a long time to realize that my life doesn’t matter less than another person’s, real or fictional. My present is also interesting and beautiful and frightening and strange. My purpose in life is not to live through others, but to live for myself. My gift for story is only worthwhile if I am here to appreciate it and use it to help others understand and mend their own lives.
What are your double-edged swords?