From the moment we enter the world until the moment we leave, our every move is dictated by choice. Indeed, it could be argued that the only choices we are not given lie in the opening and closure of those two curled parentheses.
I am freelance by choice. I’ve spent most of my life in the suspended gel of career limbo. When I was losing my house because I could not afford the rent alone, it seemed like a poor decision. When I was standing in Port Arthur, Texas a few weeks ago, working on a story I cared about for a publication I love, remaining freelance felt as optional as severing my brain from my Autonomic Nervous System.
Last week, while scouring downtown Mobile for interview subjects, I stumbled upon this bit of graffiti. At first, I walked past it. I was in a hurry. A deadline loomed, and I didn’t have time for serendipity.
Then I stopped. How many people had walked past that same random scrawl, untouched, unmoved? How many people stumble through life in much the same way, sightless, directionless, emotionless, numb not only to the world but to their own inner rhythms?
I feel the constant pull of the missing. I feel the constant ache of the lost, the forgotten, theabsentia. It does not make me sad. It makes me a writer.
It lures me down the path and invites me to imagine other worlds, other lives, other voices. It whispers in my sleep and populates my dreams with strange imaginings and flights of fancy. It drags me out of bed each morning, shivering and sleep-dazed, half-conscious but wide awake so that I might sit hearthside and transcribe the inner chatter.
I know exactly what is missing in my life. But I also know where my pulse lies. What quickens my breath. What resonates with joy. I know who I am and what I am, which is more than I could have said when I was 18 and happier, healthier.
I like who — and what — I am, which is more than I could have said a year ago. All who wander are not lost. All who seek do not necessarily wish to find.
Sometimes, it is not the possession rather than it is the thrill of the chase that brings pleasure. And nearly all of the time, when I stop running and really listen, I hear the small voice inside that whispers: This is it. This is life. In all its sturm and drang, in all its blood and glory, this is spirit transposed. Write it.