Writing is a muscle that must be exercised, and that’s something I’ve learned over the last 10 years. If you don’t flex that creativity every day, it becomes quite the arduous task to get back into a steady routine. I have to continuously challenge myself. Words don’t just pour from the tips of my fingers. I have to let them.
Yesterday I was visiting my mom; our cousin from California, who has the delightful nickname “Scaryann” (her name is Maryann, and “Scary” comes in handy during family reunions because there are at least 5 billion Maryann’s in my family, my mom being one as well), is in town for a few months. As we sat at the kitchen table catching up (and by “catching up,” I of course mean gossiping. Is there any other way?), the topic of old age came up.
Now, to those who don’t know me, I’m completely and utterly petrified to get old. Not in a OMG-I-can’t-celebrate-my-birthday-because-I’m-too-depressed kind of way, but more in a the-universe-is-so-vast-and-life-is-so-short, how-can-I-possibly-do-everything-I-want-to-do-to-ensure-I-die-happy kind of way. The topic turned quickly to the loss of memory, which is to be expected since my grandma — who I refer to as G-Money, because she’s the most un-ghetto, unsympathetic, totally-racist-because-that’s-how-she-was-raised woman, so the rap star nickname fits her in every single way. It’s so wrong, that it’s 100% right — has dementia. She doesn’t really know that she’s eating breakfast while she’s eating. It’s sad, in a way, but our family takes great care of her and she’s pretty happy. In fact, I would say she has it made. Her life is like a free 24-hour drive-thru; constant, guaranteed service without a second thought to how she’s actually still surviving. It’s pure ignorant bliss.
If only life could be that simple.
Not that it’s simple to be an 86 year old woman without a care in the world, including when to use the bathroom. But it makes me think about my mind. Like, a lot. Like, I’m super scared to get old because what if I get old and my brain stops working and I can never write again? What if my brain just decides to go on a spiritual Eat-Pray-Love journey and forgets to return? I’d like to think that, if it happens, my brain would be lucky enough to meet Javier Bardem and live Happily Ever After.
And maybe that’s enough. Maybe just the constant use of my wildly
delusional inventive imagination will be enough. Maybe.
The scary part is, it’s completely unpreventable. Life is not preventable. I can’t stop myself from aging [despite my ongoing efforts to uncover the Fountain of Youth. And a Money Tree. And a cloud that rains down sunshine and happiness], but I can stop myself from putting off my writing.
My body is longing to sit down and just write. Technically that’s what I’m doing right now, but it’s not exactly the same. My brain is so full of ideas for new YA novels (which, for those of you who don’t know, that’s what I write. Reppin’ The New School Writing for Children MFA Program) that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s slowly bleeding for release, crying for attention: Steven! Write! Use me…
I can stop the blood. I can help the clot. I can do better. I can exercise my creativity. I will let my voice be heard.
I will write.
Because to think of a time where I might not be able to write anymore, to think that I could go a lifetime without fulfilling my writerly dreams is downright frightening.