What is currently my most prized possession? I briefly scanned over the primary answers. My brain? A physical piece of me that I cherish and try to exercise each day? My body? A vessel for my brain in which I perceive sensation, pain, and pleasure? Or an object apart from my physical being? A book, a photograph, a calculating device other than the one within my skull? A child, or a pet? Something or someone I care for, or perhaps someone who cares for me? Or how about a college degree? An item signifying that I have leapt through the appropriate hoops to attain?
None of the above, to be certain.
The one true answer shone in its brilliance relative to the others. And the funny thing about this object is that it isn’t valuable to anybody else (at least not yet). But it’s valuable to me, and that is because it’s the first mountain I’ve climbed that I wasn’t expected or pushed into climbing. In fact, in many aspects of the society in which I live, I was pushed very much against climbing this particular mountain.
“It has very little–if any–potential for monetary gain.” I’ve heard that one many times.
“It’s a waste of time.” I’ve heard different versions of that one over the years.
“You don’t know what you’re doing.” This one was easy to agree with.
What was it that I wanted to do? Well, since I was a young boy, I wanted to write my very own tales. And so, as an adult, during my college years, I became more serious than ever about writing my first novel. What did I have to write about? Well… there are plenty of positive events and memories throughout my lifetime thus far. But since those don’t need fixing, I decided to write about the things that are broken, both those that can’t be mended and those that can. I wanted to create something big, something mystifying, something serious and also ridiculous.
So I stepped away from the light and focused on:
1. The times I had been betrayed by my blood family, losing connection with 99.9% of my own blood relations, either due to direct betrayals, or secondary betrayals (i.e., those betrayals caused not by cruelty or heinous acts, but by the decision not to stop those who perform such actions, or perhaps by judgments so unreasonably accounted for that I literally cannot trust such a person. For example, Person A decides it’s good judgment to marry the person who raped and murdered Person A’s children. I personally would not–or could not–trust Person A after the fact).
2. The feelings of turmoil I’ve had when some of my closest friends betrayed my trust. Have you ever caught some of your closest friends lying? Perhaps. Have you caught them lying frequently? If the answer is yes, then I would refer to the first issue above and think hard about whether you feel it’s good judgment to trust those specific people. In the end, the judgment is up to the individual to decide.
And of course, speaking of betrayals, I am forced to beg the question:
3. What does it mean to be betrayed? Surely it has a lot to do with expectations. And from the times I’ve personally been betrayed, I spent a long time questioning where my original conceptions of those expectations began, where they were first formed, and by whom–if applicable. Often times I’ve found that those expectations are writ by those who have betrayed the expectation itself.
For example, let’s say Female X is raised to believe that her father is the head of the household. That’s just how it’s been displayed to her during her childhood. Her father is the one who typically goes to work, who typically makes the money, who typically wins whatever “arguments” there are within the household, the one who typically makes the decisions, and perhaps he’s also the one who usually helps her with her homework, or who teaches her how to swim (insinuating that not all roles her father plays are either negative or positive, but a mixture between the two).
And then let’s say that same man who she has learned to respect, suddenly begins to harm her. Either he physically abuses her, sexually or otherwise, and/or he emotional despises her for unknown reasons.
The original expectation displayed to her by the small society around her, including but not exclusive to her familial unit, is now broken. She feels betrayed because her expectations have been betrayed.
From our perspective, it may be easy to see the problem. It may be a simple matter of, Hey, that guy is abusing his status and power in the given situation. But to that girl, it’s been embedded over years that her father was, and very much still is the man who provides much love and protection. So quickly does this perception become messy after the betrayal that it’s difficult for her to really define what’s going on, especially since she’s still young and unable to grasp any past examples of such betrayal. To her, this is new, and like an adult stumbling around in an unfamiliar room without light, she is struggling.
That struggle is the fodder I had in my possession to write about. And I did my best to write a novel that begins a series of an epic fantasy.
It is my most prized possession. It’s something I haven’t had much support with (though the few who have supported me really deserve a lot of praise, like my sister, and my partner, and a few of my close friends who really encouraged me to finish the endeavor once I began… I plan on dedicating each of the novels to them in turn, even if the manuscripts never turn into actual books on the bookshelves).
So I have it. I created a body of work without anybody actually expecting me to. I finished all 400+ pages, while being discouraged by many factors.
Getting a job during high school, that was expected. Moving out, that was expected. Moving on to college and earning a degree, that too was expected. In fact, after having siblings and other distant relatives earn Masters’ and Doctorates’, me earning my little Bachelor’s really was not very important to me. I’m glad I have it, but like I said before… It was expected. And that expectation really takes away from the glory that I believe is actually quite statistically insignificant. Some of my friends believe this notion to be negative… but I believe it’s simply the truth, and in my personal life, to have thrown a gigantic party over a Bachelor’s a few years ago would have been equivalent to displaying a great amount of false positivity. I’m proud of it, sure, but not to the extent of whooping and hollering. If other people find joy and excitement in their own graduation dates, then hell yeah, go out there and–in the words of a comedic friend of mine–shake yo’ booty thang. But as for me… My eyes have always been set upon the manuscript (and you better believe that when it was complete, even unedited, I was shakin’ my booty thang so much that I filled up three pitchers of pure, male, booty-sweat. I won’t tell you whether I drank it or not, but I will tell you that somebody did).
Writing the manuscript was something new, something without guidelines, with only my imagination and willpower to help move it forward. I trudged through it, and took one gigantic leap into creating my own expectations of what I desire for the future. The journey was unlike any of the other journeys I’ve traveled, for better or for worse. Was it worth it? YES.
And so I urge you, whatever it is your eyes are set upon… DO IT.
You might not gain anything from it, not now, not ever… but do it anyway if you want to.
The prize is priceless.