Use It Or Lose It
My wife and I tend to have frequent discussions on our history together, as well as the time before we met each other. We met during our undergraduate studies, a time fondly remembered for horrible eating habits and a budding attraction towards each other.
And then, there was poetry. Ah, sweet poetry.
Back in those days, our alma mater left much to be desired, at least in the way of creative diversity. It was a big part of what attracted us to each other, and an even bigger part of who we were as people. We were hungry for art, for poetry, for diverse expression and passionate creativity. We were sole members of our own little Jedi Academy, united and driven by a higher, intangible purpose. I remember thinking that it would be a dream come true if I were to end up being a Starving Artist.
Imagine it. Your only goal, your only desire is to wake up each morning and create something. To some, that may seem like an amazingly daunting pressure. To the rest of us, it's a uniquely freeing idea. It feels like a natural idea, a normal thought process. Why wouldn't I want to write poems all day and learn to play the mandolin? Doesn't sitting on someone's rooftop, singing OutKast and Bob Dylan covers sound amazing? Isn't that what coffee was made for? Who wants to worry about bills and taxes and rent and other bothers of responsible adulthood? Let's just make dope stuff and share it with the world.
It was an awesome idea. Until a new reality set in, otherwise known as bills. And health insurance. And rent. Let us not forget that horrendous lover, that dang Sallie Mae. Oh, the struggle became real and the poets got jobs.
Then we got married.
Then we became parents.
And we are blessed beyond comprehension. There is no way you could convince me that living life by the pen and pad would be better than raising our daughter together or creating a life together. Life would probably be much more interesting as a starving artist, but that doesn't mean it'd be better.
Every now and then, however, I catch an Instagram post of a friend who put together an amazing EP or a fellow poet who has constructed a haiku so beautiful, it makes blue spring skies vibrate with the hues of the heavens. Or I see an old episode of Def Poetry Jam and think to myself, "I can do that." Or I glimpse at my poetry book, the same one that I haven't held or written in in months.
And I feel like a fake, like a has-been, like I am no longer an artist. I feel like I've been finally tranquilized by the dart of domesticity.
These insecurities and desires float around me like vultures of the soul. So much of my identity has been wrapped up in what I create or write, it feels weird to acknowledge that there is more than one dimension to me.
Sometimes I do sit and ponder on the legacy and poetry of Talib Greene and Dante Smith. Sometimes, human nature alludes and baffles me, and I attempt alliteration and third-person monologues to find my own answers. Some days, I reflect on the not-so-hidden theology in The Chronicles of Narnia. And other days, I just want to watch Bob's Burgers and imitate Tina's moan. I've learned that it doesn't make me any less of a poet. It doesn't take the lyrics out of my marrow, the psalms in these bones, the rhymes out of my heart.
I write. That's what I do. I can't help it. It's still a part of me. When the dishes are cleaned and the spit-up has been wiped up and the laundry is put away, putting words together is still one of the few things that make the most sense to me. Whether I put together sonnets every nightfall, or my notebook doesn't see my face for a dozen full moons, I am still a poet.
And I can't wait to create again.