I’ve had two passions in my life. The first started when I was fourteen. Music. Music took over my existence for nearly four years. It remains an important part of my life; although I no longer play music, I listen each day. Tommy and I became friends because we were new in town, had few friends, and wanted something to fill the void in our lives. We started a band, The Avengers which later morphed into a last version called EKOS. A Panhandle surfing band eight hundred miles from the nearest beach. Tommy, Tim, Jimmy (Whom we still call Jock), Bill and me. We practiced four or five nights a week, three or four hours each session. We eventually became a good band. Later bands – The Eddie Haskell Band, Second Exit and Layton Park Station. All fun times with talented friends.
Today I take my musical journey on Pandora or YouTube. I can listen for hours as Clapton, Natalie Merchant, John Coltrane, Hound Dog Taylor, Bare Naked Ladies, and Mark Knopfler take me to places I love to go. The beauty of music never fades, Beethoven remains as fresh as Taylor Swift and Buddy Holly still rocks like Larkin Poe.
My second passion came many decades after my music playing days faded. Somewhere along the side of the road, I decided I wanted to become a writer. I was the adult who could never remember reading a single book in high school. I remember reading Hemingway’s short story – Hills Like White Elephants. That was it, period, full stop.
I started putting words on paper, most of which read like a stoned sixth grader trying to impress his English teacher. Some of my first attempts are as embarrassing as admitting I still like John Denver. But I kept at it and gradually advanced to the level of a C+ ninth grader. Typing is easy (I still type using only two fingers) but writing is a skill learned over time. A skill that does not sneak into your brain while you are sleeping. It does not come from saying, “I wish.” Writing well comes from work. Disclaimer: I am not yet a competent writer, I have yet to learn how to move from skill to art. I have yet to write a sentence that blows me away. But I love writing.
What I love as much as writing are my writing friends. One can never have too many friends, and the same applies to writing friends. I define a REAL writing friend in this manner. “A good writing friend tells me what they just read of my efforts sucks. That it reads like an airplane three seconds from crashing. That they’ve read more interesting words on the side of a cereal box. Then, they tell me ‘it wasn’t bad.’ They tell me they see improvement. They give some gentle nudges to get rid of the clichés, the overuse of that, and I need to learn when and how to use semicolons. And the last thing they tell me is , keep at it, you’re doing pretty damn good.”
I have many friends like that. My writing group likes me, and I like them. We are friends in the truest sense of the word. We help each other, we support each other, and we give each other a hard time. I wouldn’t trade them for a million copy best seller. OK, maybe I’d have to think about that. My critique group lifts me up, holds me accountable and makes me think. They improve my writing, and I honestly believe they improve me as a human.
Here is my point. Find some passion for your life. Music, art, writing, sewing, counting backwards from ten million. Find something to get excited about. Something that makes you think, makes you smile, frustrates you, makes you patient and humble. Something that turns on the light when the room is dark.
Thank you to all my old music buddies. Thank you to those wonderful musicians I listen to now. Thank you to the authors of the hundreds of books I’ve read since high school. And mostly thank you to my writing friends. I couldn’t ask for a more gracious group of talented and loyal comrades.
I hope everyone finds their passion in life.
Go well, David.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have
within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the
stars, to change the world.” Harriet Tubman.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela.
Dennis’ Wise Words
“If you dream of being a princess, be a princess.”