Today, I don’t have a poem or short story for you that is filled with some romantic, profound, whimsical, or existential meaning. I have something way better. That is why I am in my sister’s old bedroom, and why it is the subject of this post.
You see, I want to be awesome. I just finished reading a book about finding your awesome by Jon Acuff (who I kept telling people was actually named Dan Acuff. Jon, if you ever read this somehow, I am so sorry haha. Only I’m not because it makes for a great short story). The book is called “Start.”
Now, it is only natural for one to be charged up after reading a book like that, to halfheartedly start something new only to fall off the road to awesome and decide weeks, months, or years later that they need to reread the book because they’ve clearly missed something somewhere in those divinely inspired, ink-stained pages. Normally, that’s where I would start, but that is simply another distraction, another delay, another excuse to not take the first step on the road to awesome.
Don’t get me wrong, I am on that road simply by dedicating myself to posting regularly on this blog every Monday and Wednesday, (just added Friday last week, and I’m hoping this post helps me solidify that). I am also on that road with music. I have a band, we are just starting up, and though it’s a slow start, it is a start. However, I have talked about a subject in a lot of my poetry and short stories, particularly in my Ruminations of a Working Man series, that shows my biggest problem on my road to awesome.
I have comfort. Too much.
This isn’t a problem, necessarily. Some may even say I’m being “smart,” but since when did smart equate to having a job that pays well, allows me to pursue everything I want to pursue, but suck my energy and life force from me daily? When I say I’ve lost myself, I don’t ever mean geographically. I have an excellent sense for cardinal directions, even inside a closed, windowless building. I mean I used to have a pep in my step that has slowly worn away. Some people have mistaken it for maturity, but if that were true, then the most inspirational people in the world wouldn’t be extraordinary at all. In fact, I’d call them extra-ordinary. No, what I have done is gone too far down the rabbit hole of stability, and now I fear life without it. Yet I don’t do the work I ought to be doing and am payed to do every day, which has its own slew of issues trailing behind it. But whether I am doing the work I’m supposed to be doing or not, I walk away mentally and emotionally drained because there is little to nothing about that job that brings me joy.
I have a hard time writing this because I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow, face the option to quit or to stay for the sake of the paycheck, and end up sitting there for 8+ hours only to have the same complaint. And I really hate complaining. I can probably turn that job into something I would enjoy doing, and that would cut my pride (which would be a great exercise for me).
Maybe that is what I should do instead of deciding the job itself is poison.
To be clear, this is not a staged or scripted post, I had no idea I’d be saying all of this when I started, these are genuine, on the spot thoughts. But now on to the main event: My sister’s old bedroom.
It’s really funny how the physical space around you can affect you so deeply in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. Whenever I feel a significant lack of inspiration or motivation to do anything, I often come in there and sit at an old writing desk my grandfather (or great-grandfather) built many years ago, most frequently with a full glass of whiskey/bourbon on the rocks, and I begin jolting myself into position by writing calligraphy. It will usually then bleed into writing music or a short story, drawing maps, and reminiscing about my childhood. I never understood why my sister’s old bedroom had such a profound effect on me until today.
My sister is a doer. She does. She puts her nose to the grind stone, powers up her thinking cap, and she goes at it, whatever it may be at that moment. She is an ER nurse at the moment. That should be enough to solidify your understanding of how smart and hard-working she is. To add to that, she is an incredible chef (she saved me from starvation innumerable times when we were up at university together), she is particularly creative with aesthetics whether in a room, a scrapbook, or on a coloring book page, and she has a particular gift for music. She has always been an incredible singer, and when I got her a keyboard, she started by going to the music store, picking up some lesson books and Disney music charts, and immediately sat down to learn.
What does that have to do with her room? I do not believe her spirit is here, nor that there is some radioactive material beneath her carpet that made her this smart (though now I am a tad curious). It is simply that I know my sister and her level of awesome is something I truly aspire to. I’ve already accepted that I will not be the academic she is. If that was the case, I’d come in here with a textbook and just start reiterating stuff I was supposed to have learned in engineering school. Yes, I got a BS in mechanical engineering, and no, that does not automatically make me a smart person. I have proven that to myself and countless others time and time again. But I do come in here with my creative materials, whatever their persuasion may be on the given day, and I do.
I have written more stories, practiced more calligraphy, and thought more deeply in this room than I have in my own room. That is, no doubt, partially because her room is infinitely tidier than mine. But it’s also because her room is a reminder to me of where she and I both started, and where she is at now. She is living on her own, sustaining herself along with her husband, preparing to start having children, and together, they make a friggin’ power couple. I should mention he is an ICU nurse. Every bit of a nerd as her, with the added bonus of liking cool things like souped up cars and football.
Now I ain’t no slouch, neither. I am working as a civil engineer (I know, I know. Degree is in mechanical, working as a civil. I got lucky enough to know the VP of the civil engineering department at my company. I am also an aspiring musician, poet, novelist, whatever. The key word is aspiring. My sister is not just aspiring, she is actively pursuing and in the throes of becoming all the things I mentioned she is. Part of this is perspective – she may say she is only aspiring, but from my perspective, she is waist deep in everything she wants to be.
I am not here to make comparisons, but to get to the point of my post, because I could not possibly poo-poo my efforts so easily. I know I’m doing well. I know it is a fine line between aspiring and starting. I know I have just over-simplified a handful of subjects for which I will likely be rebuked and set straight, but again, this post had no forethought nor agenda. I just knew that when I finished reading the book, I immediately felt the desire to step into my sister’s old bedroom, and I knew I had to write about that.
I want to inspire others, but to do that, I must do something worth inspiring them. That can be as simple as staying put at my desk, doing my work with joy, and stop complaining so much. It can also be launching a record label, starting a coffee shop, or setting up an inspirational, educational YouTube channel. I guess it all depends on your position at the moment you decide you want to be inspirational. Heck, it can be writing an impromptu post on an anonymous blog that only a select few friends see, plus 190ish strangers. Someday, I would like to have been inspirational enough to someone for some reason that they feel the need to be in a space that I was once in just to feel the empowering presence of where awesome started.
I aspire to inspire.
Oh, and as for where I plan to start being awesome in another way… I will write stories about how awesome people are (I have a book series in the works all about that, and all of my short stories are actually just my imagination running wild with actual friends of mine.) My friends inspired me to be who I am, and I ought to show them how, even if that is through fiction.