I suspect I was an arsonist in a past life and that I’d carried those smash and burn tendencies with me into this one. When life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, or it was and i was still inexplicably unhappy, my instinct was to set match to the familiar and do my best to burn the whole damn thing down.
–me, An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness
I’m feeling the old itch again, the need to burn it down.
A jug of kerosene and one struck match seems like the easiest and best solution.
Solution to what? you ask.
To restlessness. To confusion. To doubt. To the choking sense of obligation and the box that has become to small.
My life is fine. By that I mean my real life, the external trappings and the personal parts, are mostly totally fine. The kids are alright, is what I’m saying, and my marriage isn’t in crisis. The day-to-day wheels are still spinning.
But I’m no longer sure where they’re taking me.
I don’t want to write about happiness anymore. Or at least not right now and not exclusively. Not because I’m not happy, but because I feel right now that I’ve already said what I wanted to say on the subject. I know a good content creator could repackage the same message over and over again, but I have no interest in repackaging. That kind of writing doesn’t excite me; I’m more interested in putting words to the discoveries as they’re happening.
I am not a content creator.
I’m a storyteller.
Perhaps I’ve become bored with my own story.
Except that I’m not. I write essays every day in my head, and they die there because I don’t have an appropriate outlet in which to share them. These stories are off-brand or irrelevant or not useful enough to my intended audience.
These stories don’t fit in the box.
And so I avoid the box entirely.
I don’t send newsletters or write posts or update social media channels. I don’t pitch to other blogs in my industry. I don’t write.
I don’t write. I identify as a writer; it’s how I answer the question “what do you do?” But the reality is that I have written and am not writing.
I tell my friends I’m feeling lost and confused, and they are surprised.
“But you’re planning this great retreat!” they say. “And you have the Listen to Your Mother show coming up!” they remind me.
All of that and more is true. I have things going on. I’m doing stuff.
I’m just not writing, and I am a writer.
I’m blaming the box.
The box, the brand, the expectations that are not evolving with me. I’m hemmed in by shoulds.
I want to blow up the box.
“Why do we always have to start over?” my husband sometimes asks. “Why can’t we give momentum a chance?”
I don’t know much about momentum. My experience is with stopping and restarting, a series of grand adventures that are loosely connected by the players. I’d be great in syndication.
But if Netflix has taught me anything it’s that there’s something to be said for continuity and longer story arcs.
I’m trying to give momentum a chance. I’m trying.
But I haven’t quite figured out how to move forward without a clean break. A big break.
Maybe there’s nothing to figure out. Maybe it’s just something you decide to do. Just move forward, just go, with no big declaration or goodbye bonfire. Just keeping put your foot down in front of you in the most right direction and trusting that eventually the journey will make sense.