I had thought to start out this post with an anecdote about Van Gogh or Sylvia Plath, illustrating how creative people often find themselves in a state of anguish and are known for having some — ahem — mental problems. But it’s not something that is unique to writers or painters or musicians. Everyone goes a bit mad sometimes. The last few weeks I’ve spent in the doldrums haven’t made me bring a knife to my ear (owie) or think about sticking my head in an oven (ours is electric, anyway, so that would be quite silly and macabre), but they have consisted of a routine something like this:
Think about writing.
Think about story.
Look at computer.
It occurred to me that I had lost sight of something. Maybe several somethings. Then today I typed the WordPress address into my browser and one of the Freshly Pressed articles caught my eye. It was this one about the Scottish Highlands, and it happened to contain pictures of some of my favorite parts of Scotland, including my beloved Inverness where I used to call home (still do, to be honest).
Some of the pictures bore striking similarity to some of my own favorites that I took. Others simply brought tears to my eyes. And I realized that I have lost sight of my guiding star.
One of my favorite lines in Disney’s version of J.M. Barrie‘s Peter Pan has always been that childlike and simplistic direction Peter gives Wendy, John, and Michael as they soar out of their bedroom window.
Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.
This week at work, I told someone how I wanted to live a life of adventure. How I wanted to see the world, explore it. And she said, “I should have done that earlier. Now I never can.”
And I thought to myself that her words sounded such a sad and lonely toll, like the mournful bells of a funeral knell. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that, that getting married and having a family meant your dreams and hopes had to vanish.
It doesn’t have to. And how much resentment builds out of that sentiment? To look at a wedding ring or a child as an obstacle between you and your dreams births such bitterness. It might not surface all at once, and you may be able to tamp it down for a while, but then it will nose above the calm and make ripples that turn into waves.
Travel and family are not mutually exclusive dreams. It might not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
I realized this morning whilst gazing at the pictures of Glen Coe and Culloden’s aqueduct and the familiar steeples of Inverness’s riverside churches that I have lost sight of my dreams. I want to write, and I want to travel. And yes, I do want to make a little Emmie or two along the way. There are no reasons not to do those things, only excuses. Like Fruit Ninja. And that it will be difficult.
I’m married. I don’t yet have children, but I will one day. I also have these guys. And they are definitely kind of like children. With fur. And I didn’t make these ones.
Regardless of the critters, both four-legged and otherwise, we will have adventures around the world. And I will get published eventually. In the month of financial distress and employment upheaval, it was easy feel like I was wearing wrongly placed blinders, leaving me with only my peripheral vision and no sight of what was in front of me. As the world renews itself with spring’s rain and returning warmth, I’ve realized I have to renew myself as well. I have to keep my vision intact, clarity of the present and focus on the future with the wisdom of the past in tow.
So the time comes to think happy thoughts. Any merry little thought — think of Christmas, think of snow. Think of sleighbells…off you go!
Where’s your Neverland? What’s your second star to the right? What excuses have gotten in the way of your Neverland?
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