The more authentically I write, the more I understand why I have such a strong urge to write.
I realise it began in childhood, though I would never have known then that they were raw roots. At school my class was asked to write a story up to two sides of A4, about anything. I can still hear the collective sighs and groans of reluctance from more than half the class, but not from me. I felt a pleasant goosebumpy warmth filling me up from the inside out, just at the thought of the next hour of quiet that was about to begin; the possibilities were endless, and the blank, lined page was mine to create with as I wished. As the point of my freshly sharpened pencil cracked with the pressure of first contact, I could almost taste the powdery lead residue on my page; my head was bent low as though I wanted to jump into my story as it emerged.
I don’t remember everything about the story I wrote, but I do remember it had something to do with a world where the pavement was lined with gold, and there was hardly any nature left. A white van with aggressive men inside it would drive through the gold streets collecting any leftover nature, or anything that shouldn’t be there. Somehow a baby deer, like Bambi, appeared in the story and the men found it, promptly shoving the deer into the back of the van never to be seen again.
I was 9 or 10.
How does a 9 or 10 year old express the capturing and corruption of innocence, the implications of materialism, and an internal fear that does not know how to be verbalised in complex, adult, factual language? Through a fantasy of course, a creative writing fantasy world that already began for me, way back then. Turns out I’ve known in a deep place all along who I am and what my purpose is.
Life just catches up, and sometimes a child does not even get the chance to explore the themes they seem to be most passionate about, because what everyone else is doing, and what teacher says is best, is best.
We had to take our story up to the teacher once we were finished. I finished first, about a page and a half later, and I finished first because I wrote avidly, without stopping, like I was a vessel for words that came from somewhere beyond me. Using the slightly more limited language of a child did not stop me from getting the message across.
‘Raaah!’ exclaimed a fellow pupil in the youth speak of the time as I rose from my seat, ‘are you finished already?’
I smiled both shyly and smugly.
I watched my teacher’s eyes slide from side to side; sentence beginning to sentence end. I felt I had written something meaningful even then and as he looked up from the page at the end, I smiled proudly and waited for his amazed encouragement.
‘Erm… good Ema, sit down now.’ He handed me my story back looking a little awkwardly at me as I stood without moving for a few seconds. Was that it?
‘OK?’ he asked.
I nodded and returned to my seat, deflated; the beginning of the unbeknownst discovery of my purpose was also the beginning of my ego.
There is a fine line between wanting recognition and wanting connection, for with both we can experience significance. I was too young then to know how to take it further and to know the feeling of connection when someone gains something from my writing; all I thought I needed then was a pat on the back and a medal. How could I understand the potential of the passion I wrote with?
The authentic connection is something that developed later on, as my writing has dug roots further into the soil. People have responded well and shared their own stories with me, because when you open doors you allow others to walk through them with you, and you can begin to close the gap that has occurred through the separation of ourselves in a predominantly individualistic culture. It feels good to share and connect openly with no judgement, because we are then that much closer to our original selves.
As the truth surfaces, I allow myself to experience emotional, grateful moments in all the feedback I get, and the passion and purpose of little me can finally reveal itself like freshly cut grass without the weeds of ego.
I write now not for the approval and praise of my teacher, but instead for the possibility of experiencing more revelatory moments with others that also want to grow the cause within them.
The answers to your own purpose can be found back in your beginnings.