A tiger can’t change its stripes, nor can a leopard change its spots. Likewise, people can’t change what makes them who they are. A doctor is a doctor, a locksmith is a locksmith, and a writer is a writer.
I am a writer. Although for almost three years now, I haven’t deemed myself worthy of that title. I spent a year in Los Angeles trying to become a screenwriter. I had a couple internships, met a lot of really cool people, and wrote a few scripts. I even shook hands with two of my writing idols; Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, producers of ABC’s LOST. But being absolutely terrible with finances (I tend to spend more than I make), I found myself back in the suburbs of Chicago from whence I came.
Coming back felt like being hit by Mike Tyson. I’ve been depressed ever since, but I haven’t been letting it show. I quickly constructed walls around my defeated spirit so that my friends and family wouldn’t see the vulnerable state I was in. I did such a good job of convincing everyone I’m okay, that they still believe it. In truth, I’ve just been going through the motions not really knowing what to do next. Too paralyzed with fear of failure to take a step in any direction.
To make matters worse, the wall that I built around myself became a prison for the writer within. I was burnt out, so I decided to take a hiatus from writing. The hiatus lasted a lot longer than I had planned. Occasionally I would get the inspiration to write something like a poem or a story. Or maybe to finish a script that I started in L.A. But most of the time my inner writer was locked inside his cell, missing the muse.
Soon after I returned to the Midwest, I got caught up in a whirlwind of a relationship that calmed down just in time to bless me with a beautiful wife and a healthy baby boy. I love my new family. But now I’m a deer staring into the headlights of a rapidly approaching bus. I know that I should get out of way, but I can’t seem to move my legs. Even if I could, I wouldn’t know which way to run.
How could I know what I’m supposed to do, if I don’t know who I am. I couldn’t possibly be a writer because the muse left me to rot in my cell, and therefore I wasn’t writing anything. Not much, anyway. So I thought about a few other career paths instead. I even went back to school for a semester to get into a nursing program. But after being extremely discouraged by my in-laws, I gave that up also. So then I was back to square one. I wanted to provide for my new family, but I also wanted to stay true to myself. But who was I?
Meanwhile, a faint echo was ringing from within. Hardly noticeable until recently. I didn’t know what the sound was until it became so loud and booming that I couldn’t possibly mistake it for anything else. It was the writer inside me, still trapped within the prison I build for him. After two and a half years he is finally done waiting for the muse to rescue him. The sound that was ringing in my ears was my inner writer using his pen to chip away at the walls of his cell. The more he chipped away, the louder it became. Then with a deafening crash, the walls had crumbled. And there was the muse, on the other side of the wall the whole time. She was waiting for the writer to break out. And now the writer was free.
I flew too close to the Sun and I got burned,
Plummeting back to Earth is how I returned.
Bursting into flames as I fell back to the nest,
A pile of ashes where my head used to rest.
Just like the Phoenix, from the ashes I rise,
As I soar, my fiery wings light up the skies.
For you see, I am a writer. A tiger can’t change its stripes, and I can’t keep the writer inside me locked up. Nor do I want to. This Phoenix is rising from the ashes once again.