Moving Forward, Bending Backward

Today has been a big day for me (no fooling!) The beautiful sun in the sky marked a happy change in my life toward a brighter future.

I started the day with a piloxing class (combination of Pilates, dance, and kickboxing), which only a year ago I could not dream of doing. I made it through the hour-long class and was hyped up with endorphins for the rest of my day! No NSAIDS needs. Take that, stress and fatigue! Sometimes when I’m punching, I think about my rheumatoid arthritis and how my Remicade infusions have beaten it out of my life. It’s a truly freeing feeling.

At the end of the day, I went back to my dance studio for a ballet class! Five years after ballet caused the flare-up of my RA, I am able to enjoy it again. Again, no pain. No joint swelling. I bend and jump with everyone else in the class. It feels like such a miracle. Yet the biggest news of my day involves this very blog and the book I have begun writing also titled “Sudden Sight.”

When I graduated with my BA in December, my official plan was to get my PhD in political science/international relations. It’s a fascinating field, and I would likely make an excellent researcher or professor. My family supported me. My friends thought a doctoral program was nuts, but they wanted me to be happy. I wanted an achievable goal to work toward. I imagined that after I received my doctorate, I would begin work with a think tank or at an academic institution, and I would finally have free time to do my own writing. Looking through graduate school programs, though, I began losing my vigor. Time and again they asked, “What do you want to do?” And time and again, my answers were methodical and trite. Like with acting school, I was using something I was good at as a stepping stone for something I am great at and something I am passionate about: writing.

This past week, one of my dearest friends took me out for a drink and asked me the same question. Except with her, I couldn’t give the same methodical, trite answer. When I told her the truth, she asked the obvious, “Why not just write?” My whole life people have been telling me to write–my mother, my father, hell most of my family, my friends, my teachers, etc. Growing up, it was always my favorite pastime. But somehow, I never factored it in as a possible profession. Perhaps because of cruel words from my father’s second wife that poetry was “stupid” or because I could never see eye to eye with instructors on the meanings of famous works, regardless of my supporting evidence for the opinion. Either way, writing has always been a part of me and will always be a part of me, profession or no.

So why not write? Immediately following my hospital stay with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, that had actually been my first thought. I wanted to write it all down, and to keep writing my stories, both fiction and non. It is amazing how medical tragedy–perhaps tragedy and grief as a whole–can evoke an almost childlike mentality. Sometimes nothing seems possible, but then suddenly everything seems possible. For me, it was like my heart was open and vulnerable in a way it hadn’t been since childhood. I had a new chance at life, and I could live it any way I wanted.

That feeling slipped away, though. The other side to near-death experience is certainly fear of it happening again. I had traveled away from my family and friends to follow my dream of acting, and I had lost everything overnight. Why would writing be any different? Why will writing be different? At least with graduate school, there was a plan that hard work would lead down a specified path to a career. There isn’t a path like that for being a professional writer unless I want to go into journalism. And my health conditions make investigative journalism rather tricky. There is no guarantee that writing will ever feed me or allow me to positively impact the world–my two main goals. And yet, if there is one thing SJS and RA have taught me, it is that no life path has a guarantee of those things.

One of my favorite characters in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has a mantra, “Fear cuts deeper than swords.” It is said, however, that the pen is mightier than the sword. Five years ago I nearly died and went blind. Today, I participated in two flexiblity-heavy dance classes. Tomorrow, I will write in spite of my fear. Here goes!