I am so nosy.
I read every book of letters I can get my hands on. Mostly because I'm fascinated with the lives of those who have come before me, those who have done what I hope to do. I want to know how they thought, how they felt about work and love and life, and how they came to be the stars I know them to be.
So, I was reading Kurt Vonnegut's letters, absorbing his journey, and you know what he said about how he got started? Something to the effect of this:
"I pretended to be a teacher moonlighting as a writer, and before I knew it that's what I was."
My hand shot in the air and then plummetted down to hit the line smack on its nose.
I will never forget that day I first "pretended."
I was standing on the corner in front of the royal blue awning of Gibert Joseph, where Blvd St Michel meets St Germain. The sidewalk was busy as ever but I was still as a statue. Because, oh gosh, that feeling two seconds before the words tumbled from my mouth...it was like being out of breath. Or under water. I couldn't very well move my legs in that state!
But then, when the truth spilled past my lips for that very first time, a flip had switched, a spark had ignited. I looked up into that face and felt free.
Path of a 21st century poet
A wicked poet friend of mine once told me that someone messaged her asking which courses she took to become all that she's blossomed into. And then she revealed to me that she did precisely what Vonnegut and I did. That is, she took no course. She received no nods of approval. She just decided one day she was going to shimmy out of the straight jacket she'd somehow slunk into when she was young. And that was that.
She shimmied out and took a step. And she never looked back.
So, are we who we pretend to be?
I'd say we are.
After all, no one is going to come and flick their wands and bippity-boppity-boo us into "official" artists. No. We must make the decision on our own, and when we do we'll find the courage bubble up within us to step out; to speak our truths; to paint our towns with the music of our inner cores.
Not in one fell swoop. But in one swell lifetime.
It just takes the first whisper of the truth.
Then the first step.
Then the one after that.
Step by step.
Embarking on your own journey? I've written letters for you! They've been dipped in a pool of love and understanding and drip with support. And they're waiting here.