Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"So, why are you here?"

Inspiration is a strange thing. Sometimes, it's as powerful as a jackhammer in the back of your skull. It's relentless and all-powering and consuming and ravenous. It's terrifyingly awesome. To be inspired, in any avenue in life, is arguably one of the best feelings in the entire world.

That being said, inspiration is a fickle beast (reminds me of Ben from LOST stating that "destiny, John, is a fickle bitch"). It can come and go when it pleases and sometimes when it flees, it feels utterly impossible to snatch back.

Ever feel like that? One second, you're inspired to change the world, write that Great American Novel, start that business venture, and start up that band that you've been scribbling out cool logos for on a napkin during that board meeting. Whatever it may be that sparks that inspiration to do something amazing, the real hard-hitting question becomes: what is it that makes that inspiration go away?

Now, I've been a writer for a while. But, no, that's not exactly correct. I may be, in theory, a writer. I've written a book, I've published a thing or two here and there, and I do little things like writing in this rather simple, ego-boosting blog. And, of course, I've certainly done my homework on all things writing--I'm absolutely obsessed about reading and learning the craft. But really, that's all just logistics. I've never personally felt like a proper writer. Why? Well, maybe it's because I've always worked in arms-reach of the medium, so close to it being my main job, but never quite having the ability to be able to reach over that divide. By working at Borders for all those years, I was able to grow and learn and be with my writer heroes--what I could call the Bradbury's of my life. I've always wanted to become my heroes, follow in their larger-than-life footsteps. I haven't even remotely done so, but I've been thankful that I've gotten as close as I have for as long as I did.

But as much as I love selling and reading and learning all that I can about the world around me from the written word, I don't want to be on the sidelines any more. I want to be in the game.

And, yes, social work has been great and I am certainly going to make a great one when I get back to the States (Man, I don't even want to think about how in the world I'm going to afford paying off my loans on a social worker salary...). But, and this sounds stupid and conceded and etc., etc., etc., but I know that I'm bigger--meant for more--than simply a degree and a 9-5 job someplace. I feel like I'm meant for gigantic (monstrously gigantic) things that combine writing and social work and ridiculously optimistic, ambitious, impossible dreams. I've been given the gift to be able to write and empathize and work with people. And I need to start being the people I've always looked up.

I've already met some amazing people during this trip so far. Actually, wonderful and INSPIRING people is a better, essential description. Some I've only met for a few scant minutes, others for hours over many drinks, and others for a few adventurous days or more. Just being around these people has brought new inspiration into my life and my passions. These are people that are paid writers, (journalists with fire and passion and curiosity in their eyes), working for NGOs (I've been invited to do an informal meet-and-greet/interview with those who run a refugee support center later this week, thanks in full to a wonderful connection at the Royal University here, and I can't wait to share what they're doing with you all), and/or making a difference in the world. These people are writers. These people are world-shakers. These people are behind the words I looked up to for so long. In short, these people are the people that I want to be.

At times, I feel like this journey, this adventure into the unknown, is greatly self indulgent. I mean, what exactly am I learning here? What's the purpose of meeting new people, drinking with journalists and engineers and NGO owners and entrepreneurs and swashbuckling adventurers, and visiting tourist traps and plantations and poverty stricken countries?

I don't have the answer to any of those questions. Or maybe I do, because these new encounters are shaping a different me, an inspired me. You ever meet someone who inspires you? I have and am. I feel the pounding in my brain again, that uncontrollable hum of a million neurons firing, colliding, and exploding (well, uh, that imagery goes a little too far, because that would probably mean a hemorrhage or something).

I am a writer. I am a social worker. I am a traveler of the world. I'm meeting amazing people who do amazing things (hopefully some of you I've met are reading this right now. Know that you're inspiring). And I'm being exposed to things I've never knew existed outside my tiny American bubble.

This is my Motorcycle Diaries moment.

So, again, why am I here?

I'm here to write.

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