“And what would you really like to do?” I was asked by the interviewer.
“Well truth be told, I would really like to pursue photography,” I replied, a bit too arrogantly.
“No. Let me rephrase. What do you really want to do?”
I looked back through books of my thoughts, jotted down across various types of paper and ink (mostly black), and through characters I have left behind in the digital realm. In 2004, I quoted the late Alone Shepard – a remarkable woman who has shaped my approach to writing since I attended her “Media Writing” class that year – in the preface she has written for our college literary magazine, Realms:
“Writing is in its essence a speech act, shaped somehow into form, where it can become art. Poetry began as song.
“Why do we want to sing and speak our thoughts? And why do we want to shape them into the form of written language?
“Many might answer that we write to communicate, which is ultimately true. Strangely though, writers never say this. Writers will instinctively talk about a deeper level of impulse, more interior, and more invested with intention and need. Writers will talk about a kind of compulsion to write – even if no one ever reads the words. Sometimes, it seems, it is enough to have spoken to oneself. As one of our Realms writers, Kinan, says, the writer’s first impulse is “I desire.”
Desire. It is what drives the world. It is what drives us to do what we do, buy what we buy, say what we say, and eat and drink to our heart’s desire, as it were.
In 2005, I was given enough motivation to express my feelings through writing; I have been a pawn in a lover’s chess game of five. The fascinating days of college. When no one believed my narration of the events, I set out on a small crusade to fulfil a desire in me — a desire to be heard… by myself. In 2005, I was a completely different person than I am today. I was a different person two years ago. I was a different person a few months ago. In my core, though, I could see the little boy I have known all my life. The little boy who looks out from my right eye to look into the left as I face the mirror. My eyes chase each other, each yearning to talk.
Seven years ago, when my feelings had the better command of my language, I have written:
To write what we have suffered an enjoyed is to endow our memories with the duration of our existence. We write so we can read and reread, so that we can remember in secret, and then weep in solitude.
And today, this is why I am rewriting, again. Reading what I have been writing all the past few years shook my core. I am a different man, but the same man. The pages of my journals – digital and traditional – have been too empty. I chat away my years and never write something tangible. People dedicate their tweets to their children – something admirable, and cute, for sure. But my 40K or so tweets add nothing of true value. Not as much as a few pages of any journal entry I have been writing since I learned I could write about unicorns waging wars against each other.
We spend the days “fixing things” that need not be fixing. In an age that conditions us to have results now and deliver results within impossible deadlines, we lose ourselves to work that only benefits the pockets of a few, while we empty the pockets of our souls. My time has not been mine for the past few years, but now, I write this in the office, with emails coming in, and new deadlines and calendar appointments coming in and out. The best time to have a break is when we do not have time to.
And today is as good a day as any.
“You know what, Kinan,” Ms. Shepard told me as I walked her to the car after class, “I see you an old man, sitting in your chair on the porch of your nice little house, writing Hallmark cards.”
Probably not Hallmark cards, but when I close my eyes and see myself in the future, I do not see myself as an old revered photographer, or a market leader in whatever field I am in now or will change into; I see myself as exactly that: sitting in a chair, in front of a little white house.