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Coming of Age Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

Why do I feel like this?

When I first started I felt an overwhelming sense of motivation. No, deeper than motivation. I felt like I had to do this, like it was my destiny. 

Back then, I had to create, it was painful not to. I guess, when I think about it, nothing has changed in that aspect. It still hurts not to create. So why don't I? If I know it hurts me, why do I remain stagnant? Laziness I suppose. That kills me. Kills me to know that my dream, something that once pumped my heart with determination, has become foggy. Soon, if I don't change, this dream of mine will become nothing. A gust of wind. A distant memory. 

I loved art as a child. The love must’ve been in my bones for it only grew with age. Whenever I created art, I felt like I was doing something purposeful. What that purpose was, I’m not sure, but anyways, creating just felt right. Maybe because art was one of few things I felt truly good at. I struggled in school. Like below average, short of struggle. Reading did not come naturally, science felt like an alien tongue, and math was the cherry on top. I felt dumb in school, and since I saw success in school as a predictor of future successes, I felt dumb in life. That is, except for art. It came naturally. My brain seemed to fall asleep the second my pencil hit the paper. Something else would then inhabit my body. I would wake, then boom, art. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing but it was my thing. 

A year or so ago something came to me. An idea. An idea that would gradually blossom into a dream. A dream I felt was so wonderful and exhilarating it completely consumed me. What was that dream? Creating a children’s book. Not just any children’s book. It was a special story with equally special illustrations to bring the story to life. Maybe, to some, that sounds less than thrilling, but to me, it was everything. 

So I began. My work consistency ebbed and flowed. Sometimes, I spent days consumed in work. Sometimes, I did nothing for weeks. My passion however, only grew. Writing was never my thing, and in the beginning, it was almost painful. The illustrations, however, I couldn’t get enough of. When it came to storytelling, I felt the words were the body and the pictures the soul. 

I’ve been working on this book for a year now, but it feels much longer than that. Closer to three or four. You could say I hit a rut. The thing about ruts is that you’re eventually supposed to get out of them. Instead of climbing out, I’ve seemed to have stayed still. I’ve grown accustomed to the air down here. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but here I am and here I remain. 

My grandparents are visiting. They will surely ask about the book. I know it’s their way of showing me they care. Sweet, yes, but the questions have begun to sting. They remind me of my current state, no progress and no passion. 

Please don’t ask. 

Grandpa and I quietly sip coffee. His sleepy eyes suddenly go wide. 

“I almost forgot to tell you!” He proclaims.

I give him a soft smile. It’s sweet to see grandpa get excited.  

“I learned about one of our relatives. I believe she was my fathers aunt, or maybe it was his sister in-law…” His eyes glazed the room as he wrestled with the thought. 

“Anyways, it turns out she was a famous illustrator. She made greeting cards.” 

Wait, what? 

“Really?” I say curiously. 

“Yes! She lived in New York and worked for some big card company. I forget the name of it, it supposedly was one of the biggest at the time. Up there with Hallmark.” Grandpa explains enthusiastically.  

New York? One of MY relatives was an illustrator? Working in New York? Is that where I get it? My pull towards art? My hunger to do something great as an artist? 

I have never heard anything like this. No one in my family, till now, cared much for art. They appreciated my interest but that was all. 

“What was her name?” I ask hastily. 

“That’s the thing, her records are hard to track down. She died at a young age.” He sighs. A somewhat solemn tone coating his words.

“How old was she?” I ask, feeling a sudden need to know everything. 

“Young, barely in her thirties. She was hit by a bus, living in the City.” 

I don’t notice Grandpa's expression, I become consumed in my own thoughts.  

A bus? She went to New York, ambitious, wanting to make something of herself. And she did! She got a job. Probably her dream job. And she gets hit by a bus? Who the hell gets hit by a bus? It’s absolutely appalling. It sounds almost unreal. 

A sober yearning tugs my heart. Almost as if something close to me had been taken. This was quite unusual. It’s quite difficult for me to connect with individuals from the past. History was another subject that confused me. But this, this is different. I feel that this woman, this stranger, was somehow with me. That we were connected, not merely through blood or a family tree but in spirit. That I, silly as this may seem, was supposed to finish something that she started. She had worked so hard, and yes, maybe gotten a successful job, but she undoubtedly wanted more. She was going to do more. 

This distant relative of mine had gotten somewhere. Not just from her artistic gifts, but from her hunger. Her passion. 

I feel that passion too. I have it, or at least I did. I must find it again. For her. She will not die with that bus. She must live on. I must make her proud.

September 17, 2021 20:11

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1 comment

Graham Kinross
00:47 Jun 24, 2022

It’s amazing to see the passions you share with family. I had a lot of artists on both sides of my family who were probably part of the reason I wanted to go to art school. The passion for writing in the story is something the character has to follow. We all do.

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