Friday, July 24, 2009

My Walk Down Memory Lane

I believe that it is human nature, when reminiscing on our pasts, to either glamorize our meager accomplishments or minimize our journeys to self-realization.

I fall on both ends of this pendulum. It is with self-deprecating wit that I recall my braces-wearing, thick-waisted, frizzy-haired days filled with adolescent angst; however, each point scored in a basketball game, each runner gunned down at second base, forever lives on, every detail of the lay up, 3-point shot, perfectly executed throw {no matter how rare the event} etched in my memory.

A couple of weekends ago, my parents brought over boxes of memorabilia they found while cleaning out their attic. Rummaging through them has consumed my time this week while Addison has been napping. I discovered schoolwork, report cards, calendars, all star and championship softball and basketball trophies, ball jerseys, patchwork quilt pieces, homemade dolls, yearbooks, news clippings, all the news articles I investigated as a journalist for The Pony Express, and all of the stories, books, and poems that I wrote.

It nearly astonished me as I watched the confident, imaginative child transform into a timid, awkward adolescent. As I regained some courage in high school, I followed passions and developed talents, and in college I tried my hand at everything in my attempts to find my true self.

Looking back through my yearbooks, I laughed until I cried remembering the inside jokes in the entries. I smirked at all of my silly preoccupations with boys and homecoming and arguments with friends. I cherished the references to my accomplishments in various activities and sports, but I also found myself somewhat disappointed, thinking "Why did I not try out for that play? I would have loved doing that." "Why was I so worried about what so-and-so thought that I didn't involve myself in ______ activity?" "Man, I really missed out on ______."

When I caught myself playing the "could'a, would'a, should'a" game, I stopped and wondered why. I'm not usually the kind of person who is impressed by flashy accomplishments, and I certainly don't aspire to be the kind of mother who puts so much pressure on her child to be involved in each and every thing. While I am driven to be an ambitious and successful individual, I firmly believe that every person using his/her unique skill set and field of interests is what achieves true success--that knowing ourselves fully is what authentic success "looks like." More than one path can lead to the same result, and each path must be specific to each individual.

I summarized my thoughts as this: we begin our lives with limitless opportunities. Every choice we make along the way eliminates millions of other things we *might* do {have done}... It narrows our field. Sure, being in a play, participating in X,Y, or Z could have benefited me in some way; however, what if right now, based on the decisions I did make, I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

From as early as I knew my letters and could hold a pen, I have been writing stories and keeping journals. It consumed me so completely that my mother asked my pediatrician if there was something wrong with me not wanting to play with dolls... She told him, "She only wants paper and pens." "Well, then give the girl paper and pens," he replied. And, that, my mom did. My dad even said that he would provide me with a lifetime's supply of paper, a promise he's always kept.

In the pile of papers, I found my ruminations of the 1988 presidential election and my almost 10-year-old self's political opinions on Michael Dukakis, George Bush, Dan Quayle. I uncovered my 5-year-old's pennings of "The Boy who Made Friends," my 7-year-old's "How the Elephant Got Its Trunk," and my ongoing series of Peanut Land and Mystery Kids. I analyzed my 13-year-old's perspective on how confusing and contradictory our feelings are, poured over my college admission essay to Vanderbilt, and I smiled.

While reading anything I could get my hands on as a child introduced me to a world of imagination, endless possibility, and the freedom to make-believe, while it fascinated me through the lives and eyes of historical figures who walked before me, it is through writing that I have created my own world while also observing the world around me.

I now am a teacher; I teach teenagers how to read and write, to analyze and relfect, to choose vivid verbs and precise adjectives. I am also a writer; I write to inform, to entertain, to remember--looking for true sentences, unique ways of expressing myself, and words for encouraging and inspiring.

Although I reduced my boxes of memories into one, the experience inspired me to fill many more.


Sarah Armstrong said...

Oh how I love to read your have a gift. And I am kind of excited that Turner seems to have a strong affinity for paper and pens...perhaps she'll be a writer like her Daddy?

J said...

GREAT entry, Kristy!

Kelley Brown said...

I always love reading your writing. And it all began so early. :) Loved reading this!