I didn’t come to reading easily. There was too much to do, too many words to say. Of course, after going to school for over twenty years, I’ve finally read a few books, and actually like it. But it didn’t come easy. The first book that I ever remember finishing was A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It was also the first book that I ever read to the kids. Reading takes work. There’s a reason that it’s easier to sit in front of the television than it is to read. So, for a lifelong shortcutter, reading didn’t come easily.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but discovered along the way that my favorite genre of books is the Bildungsroman. I won’t make you look it up- it’s the “coming of age” story. I love to follow the story of a character grow up. The journey. The Outsiders, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit, The Catcher in the Rye, The Chosen, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, and of course why so many of you love Harry Potter. There’s something about following the young protagonist through the journey of growth, the tension of development, that gets me every time. At the end of the day, there’s only about seven stories to tell, and “Coming of Age” is my jam. Tell it a million different ways and I’ll read it a million different times.
I’m not 100% sure, but my guess is that the more someone reads, the more likely they are to begin to ask the question, “Can I do this?” I know that I have. Can I write? It’s a highly presumptuous question. I have several different friends who are accomplished writers. I have one friend who has a book with a foreword by Alice Munro who calls her a “brilliant writer”. Alice Munro! As in the Nobel Prize Alice. Everyone can’t write, so I don’t want to ever presume upon my friends that are professional writers that I can do what they do, what they’ve spent a lifetime of crafting and honing to do. That would be like someone coming up to a NASA scientist and saying, “I’ve shot fireworks before, scoot over and let me show you how to build a space shuttle.”
A few years ago, I wanted to see if there was anything to this desire to write. So, I went back to school at our local liberal arts college to take some classes on writing. I met a couple of amazingly gracious professors who helped me to explore. I asked questions, fumbled through stories and poetry, read about writing, talked about writing, learned about writing, and wrote. I started rough and finished a little better.
Last year, I realized that this journey with Tiffanni was flying by. I got caught up in the everyday minutia of life. Relationships strained, tedium mounted, normality waned, and days checked off the calendar as if they had never been lived. “One day at a time” became a mantra that was less about living each day and more about tolerating it. This isn’t an okay way to live. So I began to write.
I wrote to notice. I wrote to notice the life that was lived in between meals and baths, morning times and bedtimes, ballgames and school presentations, church services and workdays, school dropoffs and pickups. But more importantly, I wrote to notice the life that was lived inside of those moments. A lot of life gets lived in the mundane. The average, everyday moments- the non-Facebook worthy moments. And hundreds of them were passing me by without so much as an acknowledgement.
So, I write. It is a sacred act of spiritual discipline for me. Without it I miss God in the silence. I miss the joy of my children in the monotonous. I miss the love of my wife in the routine. I miss the gift of every relationship in the casual. I miss the fulfillment of my work in the required. I miss the spirituality in rest. I miss the holiness in sharing a meal with a close friend. I miss the peacefulness of my often chaotic home. I miss the sacrifice of my parents. I miss the joy of a simple telephone call from my brothers and sister. I miss the medicine of laughter. I miss the gratification of finishing a home. I miss the contentment of my life. I can’t afford to miss those things, for they are life. So, I write to notice life. A beautiful life. And this is my Bildungsroman.