A small change in my day-to-day life had a profound impact. In August 2010, I made the decision to commit a portion of each to writing creatively day (even if that meant only for a few minutes at a time). That decision helped change my life.
This was my “start somewhere” moment. However, the process leading that led to this moment started several years earlier.
In late July 2007, while living in New York City, I spent a week in New Orleans painting and cleaning schools damaged nearly two years earlier by Hurricane Katrina. It has taken years for me to admit how this experience affected me.
I returned to Manhattan following this trip and decided I needed to change my life. Despite working with several amazing people and enjoying the financial rewards of my efforts, I felt unfulfilled. After several months spent soul-searching and trying to thwart the feelings of guilt for failing my mentors and friends, I became convinced that a career working in professional sports satisfy me professionally and personally. My dad had played professional football, my life intertwined with sports since before I could remember and I spent hours each week following the games I loved. When I landed in the front office of an NFL team, I thought my life was on easy street.
Except life is never that easy. Shoot.
I spent one year analyzing player contracts in the NFL before deciding to discard my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because I wasn’t passionate enough about it. Like some entitled brat, I walked away without any plan for my future. With my dream of professional sports evaporated, I floundered for the next 14 months. I was frustrated by a career going nowhere and remorseful for what I perceived as countless missed opportunities. I didn’t know what to make of my life, but I knew that whatever I was doing with it wasn’t enough.
I tried to patch my holes with short-lived volunteer ventures, dreams of start-up riches (although I lacked any ideas with merit) and weekends spent analyzing just-emptied glasses of craft beer flowing from long-stemmed tap in various bars. If not for the encouragement and support of my girlfriend, Stacie, I’m not sure what depths my psyche would have reached.
By August of 2010, I made small, seemingly insignificant decision to join a creative writing group. This choice changed my life as it came to signify my commitment to restoring creativity to my daily routine. Sure, at that point, I had taken one online writing course, started and stopped a blog and scribbled many straight to the trash-bin short stories. This wasn’t my first foray into writing, but it was the first time I made writing a consistent theme of each day, whether in the morning hours before work or in the evenings following a full day’s grind.
Maybe it was the excitement of feeling at home with other “writers” or just the rush of creativity I felt from each session, but this decision to “start somewhere” and join the writing group offered benefits I never expected. I began and ended each day more energized, satisfied to know that I had dedicated at least some portion of my day to creative (and introspective) exploration. At work, I felt more mentally engaged and open-minded with the rigors of my daily vocational routine. For the first time I felt purposeful and the beginnings of fulfillment. Writing was my drug and contentment the high it brought to me.
A decade of suppressed imagination oozed from me. Since sometime in high school, I had run from this side of personality, believing it frivolous to the traditional life I thought I wanted. The more I wrote, the more I realized how tired I was of lying to myself. Like reconnecting with an old friend, I felt more energized with each passing day.
Most importantly, though, if I never committed to being a writer, I never would have attempted my current project – my memoir, To Dad: From Kelly. The book details the understanding and acceptance with my own goals, hopes and shortcomings that I arrived at while grieving over the unexpected passing of my father.
While writing, I’ve examined the lessons my dad taught me, the questions that either he never answered or I never asked and the defining moments that shape the person I hope to be: a writer, a speaker, a teacher, someone filled with compassion for others and someone who inspires others to give.
I believe that all of us have passions and dreams that we aspire to attain. From my experience, sometimes the most important decision is the one to start somewhere and find the time to include these passions into our lives – even if it’s only for a few hours per week and on weekends. It’s impossible to realize how positive the impact of even small changes can be until we try.
Now that you know my Start Somewhere moment, please share yours.