My eldest son moved to Colorado last week.
He saved bits of his paycheck for months, sold his furniture and anything else he reckoned unnecessary, packed up his used Nissan Maxima and set out for a land that is the exact antithesis of the Mississippi Delta.
He is 24 years old with no job (hopefully he will have one by the time this is published) and no clue what he is doing, only that he is following the old call to “Go West, young man.”
Yet, I could not be more proud of him.
He is grasping a desire that has dangled and taunted him, and is pasting it permanently as a fact unto the pages of his life.
He is creating his story in the way he wants it read, realizing that if he doesn’t, no one else will.
As a mother, I want his story to read like the script of a 1950s sitcom, calm and safe with sunshine and humor.
I’d actually like to take a pen and paper and write it for him, throwing in a nice girl who will want me to come visit and ask me for advice, a Collie dog that doesn’t shed and saves children who have fallen down wells, two perfect kids who are seen but not heard, and a boxed shaped house with a white picket fence.
I can’t do this though, because his story is not my story, and while I used to be a major character I am now only a secondary one.
Let’s face it, if we want our kids to be healthy we need to eventually accept ourselves as secondary characters, heck hopefully there will be whole chapters of their existence that we are not even privy to read.
As much as we may want to, we can’t cut and glue their life stories into a pattern that looks like a collage of our personal desires.
All we can really hope for is that they follow their own dreams and those dreams are good because we taught them to seek what is good.
My son may not have a perfect experience, he may end up back home in just a few months, but he can say he tried.
Trying is the one enemy of failure.
His willingness to do this has made me revisit my own desires. The biggest one is to give this writing thing the trying time it merits.
Maybe if I strive hard enough I might even one day place a book on my shelf that has my name printed on the binding.
Maybe not, but I have to finally make a solemn attempt.
I am tired of using life as an excuse to not create.
The everyday mundane is always a good scapegoat for procrastination and fear.
Stephen King teaches in his book On Writing that “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
I think the same thing can be said about pursuing dreams.
We never exert the effort because we let the ideas of life dictate our dreams.
It should be the other way around.
So, I’ve decided to get rid of all the misgivings that I reckon will slow me down and just “Go West.”
My West just happens to be a land where words lie on the horizon waiting to be written down, hazily anticipating my arrival.
Who knows I may even succeed, if I don’t at least I won’t fail.
Unfortunately, this means that I must take a break from this column.
I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to write for all of you who have taken the time to read my articles.
To those of you who have given encouragement along the way please know that encouragement has been my fuel, without it I would be stranded.
I hope I have connected with you through our time together.
I also hope that you find your own “West” and take the first step to head there.
“A journey of 1,000 miles must begin with a single step,” or so it’s been told.
No dreams are ever small, they all matter.
All of them deserve a try.