On Returning to Old Things

I’m not the best cleaner in my household. My room has been notoriously dusty for years, and when the time to finally manage the mess comes around, I can remain stopped up for days, breathing through a film of years-old decay gathered under my bed, my drawers, or my bookshelf. The dust bothers my lungs, and once, when I still had carpet, it got so bad after a serious vacuuming session that I moved myself and all those that matter most to me (that being my sheets, comforter, and three pillows, onto the living  room couch for several days. I was worse off after cleaning than I was before.

Sometimes, when you start cleaning up though, despite all of the dust and grime that emerges from years of carelessness, you find something valuable in the midst of it. An old collectible, a tattered middle-school notebook, or even a favorite sweater shoved under a box of unread books can bring light to a dark day. Even as particles of dead skin of any number of people or animals fly through the air, memories can flood irresistible joy in the moment you find something you love again.

That’s what getting back to writing feels like. It’s a little dusty and decayed, but it’s mostly stayed the same. In college I wrote a lot, but it was all for classes that demanded unnatural adherence to academic style. I didn’t spend much of my own time writing and spent most of my free hours wandering campus, talking to people, working, or doing whatever random extra-curricular I would fall into. The craft I once loved sat in the back of my mind, with tools of prose and poetry that I once used often remaining untouched for months at a time. I brought out my best only when it was absolutely necessary, when I needed an especially good closing paragraph, or a catchy metaphor. Exchanging what I was comfortable with for a drier, formulaic tone more appropriate for term papers on Milton or Medieval poetry, I forgot what it was like to love writing and to breathe in the fumes of creativity like sniffing the wafting scents of wildflowers. Instead, I traded the ecstasy of expression in for a quieter satisfaction, like exchanging the scent of those real wildflowers in for a Yankee Candle substitute on my window sill.

And so I’m back, for at least a moment, in the wild outdoors of creative thought, where the things aren’t real and the points don’t matter. I missed it, and now I begin the process of intentionally pursuing that which was lost.

Today begins a journey to rediscover that joy, perhaps even try to make something out of it. It’s time to dust off the old tool chest, polish my pen, and sit down, learning to love the art of creation again. I hope you enjoy.

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