Today, I had a killer migraine. It was of a particular sort that I hadn’t had in years. The closest I can come to describing it is that it feels as if a metal pipe has been thrust through my cheek bone at an angle and is protruding from my eye socket. As graphic as that may be for an opener, the words still don’t quite seem to capture the pain involved.
When I worked in education in the past, it always seemed a surprise to students when I’d first show them pictures of me as a kid, when I’d tell them about other members of my family, or even when they’d see me drive up and get out of my car. Somehow, they’d always just assumed that I was a fixture of the school that existed there at all times, perhaps tucked away in some closet when they left to go home, only to emerge again the next morning for another day with them, only moments before they arrived. In their minds, I had no past. No home. No family or friends or struggles.
As I woke this afternoon from my drug-induced coma, I got to wondering if the same sort of dynamic might be happening with me as a writer. That is, I began to wonder if some readers might inadvertently think of me as some sort of fairytale character who lives in a land of perpetual sunshine and adventure, instead of a real person who sometimes gets miserable migraines. And this got me to thinking that perhaps a post of a different sort might be in order today – a post where I tell you a bit about the other side of Erik.
In addition to the outgoing, fun, sociable and adventurous things I’ve shared with you, the following things are also true of me.
I was a very dark and brooding teen, a loner.
I am fiercely independent and have to continually remind myself to remain open and vulnerable with others.
Sometimes, I am not in the mood for more personal interaction, talking or writing.
There are some people I don’t particularly like.
Every so often, I get the blues – feeling sad, lonely or forgotten for no good reason.
I hit times when I am completely worn out, and I crash for an entire day.
I still get irritated with incompetence sometimes, and forget to treat people as people.
For all of the positive potential of my words, I am equally aware of my ability to use words to be cutting or to put people in their place. This is something I have to be mindful of, particularly when I am peopled-out or run down.
Why do I tell you all of this? I guess I’m hoping that a dose of this kind of reality, though not perhaps as heartwarming or exciting as other posts, will actually be an encouragement to some.
My goal in writing the book and this blog is not to highlight how wondrous a life I live compared with the humdrum lives of everyone else. My goal is to inspire people – real people just like me – to take one more risk. To live a little more openly today than yesterday. To make one small change toward being more free. More engaged. More fully human. If you believe that the kind of life I live and write about is reserved only for the fortunate, the gifted, the unusual or the perfect, then it will seem unattainable and you will not be motivated to try anything different in your own life.
We are all writing our lives on imperfect pages. I intend to keep writing mine anyway. I hope you will continue writing your own, as well.