I get comments about things that I write all the time.
As a journalist, that comes with the territory. There will be some complaints from a soccer mom who's baby I didn't mention enough or a hockey dad with a gripe. Most of the feedback I get is positive and greatly appreciated.
It has been the same as an author. I've had a number of people tell me how much they enjoyed the book of mine they recently read. And that is so rewarding to hear.
One of the most recent comments I read about my writing told me how "Brilliant" I was and "What a great future" was ahead of me.
To read such comments a week or so ago were quite stunning.
You see, these comments were from something I wrote in 1984. They were comments from a teacher about the journal I had kept for a writing class in high school. I stumbled across it while cleaning.
Those comments surprised me because they meant something to me now. I recognize what that teacher saw and I respect that "brilliance" and the bright future. Her words were as relevant today as they were then, if not more so. I cherish and relish it, knowing that so much is in store for me because I've got so much unfinished business.
I don't recall being so appreciative of those comments back then. I was probably happy that the teacher liked what I wrote and that was good enough. I don't think I grasped what she was truly saying. As I glanced through that journal, it was so me. The person I am today, I could see signs of him in that journal.
I remember a few years ago sharing love letters that I had written to a girl in high school. I still had hers. She still had mine. I read mine hoping to see some fledgling brilliance in my writing. There was none. The highlight was me saying "My love for you is terminal". I realized I had the wrong word and crossed it out and wrote "eternal" instead.
In this journal, I was writing about music, religion and politics and commenting on the world around me with an idealistic view and strong convictions. It is the same kind of topics that I think and speak about now. I just use bigger words.
That quest and desire to write deeply, powerfully and meaningfully existed even then. I had not developed my desire to write words that are not disposable but the signs were there.
With the death of Pete Seeger, I'm reminded of a quote I read once in book about folk music. When Seeger's son decided to pursue life as a musician, his father pointed out that it would be a life of constant seeking and never being satisfied. His career choice was destined to lead toward an unfulfilled life. It was the price to pay for such a creative mind.
I saw that comment and immediately related to it. I had always wondered why I was the way that I am.
I am always looking for new music to enjoy and inspire, with hundreds of CD's to prove it. I'm always buying books. I just bought five of them last night - that comes after downloading a bunch on my Kindle a few weeks ago. I'd buy all kinds of cookbooks and rarely would make the same dish twice. .
I am always overly critical about the things that I write. The perfect example is a story I did on hockey fighters and the tough role they learned and lived. I was swinging for the fences with that story, hoping for the proverbial home run of sports features. I wrote it and was disappointed. I considered it a swing and a miss. It subsequently was recognized by the Maine Press Association and the New England Press Association and was the most honored story I've written - so far.
That Seeger quote made me realize that I was and am always seeking. I'm always looking for something new, something better something different.
I knew that someday I would publish a book. I also knew that I'd publish said book and would likely wonder the very next day what I was going to do next because the published book was yesterday's news. Sure enough, I did just that - even though I already had the next book in mind.
I balked at the idea of it being an unfulfilled life. I felt rather satisfied and fulfilled with my life to some degree. But I saw myself as someone that was always striving and never wanting to be comfortable with the status quo.
As I've gotten older and learned more about life and myself. I still see myself in those words. But I embrace them even more. And when I see that teacher's comment about my writing and perspective being "brilliant" and part of a "great future". I agree and recognize that potential.
For too long, even amidst my striving for new and different things, I didn't see that potential. I didn't embrace it. I didn't pursue it.
But I do now. I am unfulfilled. I am unsatisfied. I am brilliant. I am a maker of a great future. That is what life is about. It is about constantly seeking and finding and then searching some more. It can be tempting to rest easy in life and be along for the ride. That's not what I want. I'm driving the car. I'm making progress. I might even get to where I want to go. But I'm always moving forward and seeking new destinations. There are great things ahead of me on this road and I'm going to enjoy the ride. In that comes fulfillment and satisfaction.