Searching through old files on my hard drive is like getting lost in the metaphorical labyrinth: it’s a maze, but there’s a strange order to it all, and like those walking labyrinths that folks use as spiritual tools and a means of self-reflection, I also feel a peculiar awareness—and, occasionally, an awakening—when perusing all my old stories and poems, and fragments of ideas.
I forget so much. Things I could never imagine forgetting, when I’m reintroduced to them. You see a poem you haven’t thought of in years, and you suddenly remember all those months spent ironing out each word, and how important those words were to you. It’s like forgetting the face and name of your best friend, and then meeting that person after a long absence. You feel embarrassed, and kind of sad you didn’t do more together. And that you let go.
Some of the work I found was written in high school. Others stories, in undergrad. There was a lot of fiction created during law school. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry. Strong in fantasy, very romantic. Rough around the edges, unpolished—some of it bad—but so enthusiastic. Right there in the moment.
Unfinished, though. So many of them, undone. Abandoned in the middle, or the beginning, or even after a sentence or two. It frustrated me, then—but not anymore. When I open those folders, and follow other folders to new folders that lead finally to files—and then I go deeper—I look at all those lost bits and pieces, and I remember how much joy I took in writing them, and all the potential I felt—in them, and in myself. Telling stories, even just one sentence, was like making possibilities.
Still feels like that, but when you’re under deadline it’s easy to forget your sense of wonder. You get buried, sometimes, in everything but joy.
The end of the year is rolling around. 2010 is sitting on top of us. A new year always feels like a new morning. And every day, every moment, you have an opportunity to build your life one small dream at a time.
Each of those story fragments, poems, and essays, were my one dream at a time. That’s still the case when I jot down an idea, even one that might not go anywhere, ever. It’s the doing that matters.
And who knows? One day I may find that note and remember, at a much needed moment, the creative impulse that sparked it—or perhaps, I’ll look at that fragment and make a story out of it. Anything’s possible.
I found this poem during my hard drive ramblings, a real walk down memory lane. I wrote it when I was seventeen, in a mad rush before bedtime. It was part of a college admission application to the University of Chicago. You had to write a poem, or some essay—I think—and this is what I chose. It contributed to my acceptance there, though I decided to attend another school.
In My Mind
In my mind, there are only
hallowed halls, untraceable
as myth, but dear to me.
Here I roam, and may
my blood run cold
before my mind’s feet
fail to go.
There is ivy here, and legends fair
of my own making, and I love the secret
paths, the infinity of choice that my thoughts
may empower for better or for worse.
Flowers bloom at times
some weeds are found confined
but not a living thing
goes lonely here, in
the halls, in the home,
this labyrinth of my
Maybe someday I’ll
map it out, my thoughts,
all subjects felt, but then again,
such things are better left
unsaid, to either rot or grow,
in the fervent sunshine
of the beholder’s soul.