I’ve been spending a lot of time looking backwards over the past year. Tis the season, I suppose: a time for wrapping up loose ends and getting a sense of where I’m coming from and where I’m going. I wanted to get prints made of some of my favorite photos- especially the ones of me with the new friends that I’ve made this year.

I always find that printed photos have a certain weightiness just because they exist as physical objects. So many of my photos exist only in digital space that I don’t get to treasure them in quite the same way.

As I clicked through my selected images, I could see a kind of self-aware pattern emerge. I actually liked a lot of the photos of myself for a change- as if this were a year in which I became somewhat more true to myself. But there were also a great many photos with dull, dead eyes and a hopeless stare. For all my drive to grow personally this year, there has been a great deal of struggle and discouragement as well. Old dreams have had to die and new ones have not yet taken their place leaving me dangling in limbo and searching for direction.

“What am I learning from all this?” I asked myself. “Is this making me stronger or am I just growing harder and meaner and less willing to take risks?” I still don’t know the answer, I’m just trying to keep moving.

I’ve found myself thinking about the main character in my work-in-progress a lot. I love this character profoundly. He’s not very likeable: he’s angry and manipulative and self interested and volatile, but I love him. And I put him through hell. His story is not easy or fun or pleasant, and if he knew I was the one guiding his destiny I know he would ask “why can’t you just make this easy?! You’re all powerful! You control the entire world!” And it’s true: I could write his fate however I wanted- showing him with wealth and acclaim and the sense of belonging that he’s always been missing with a handful of keystrokes.

But it wouldn’t make for a very good story. It wouldn’t turn him into a legend. So I mentally apologize as I pull the rug out from under him again and again until he finally becomes what he needs to be. Transformation. Then redemption.

And then I think about my own life and my own frustrations and all the times the rug gets pulled out from under me, and I wonder what creator loves me enough to make my story great and in the end all the struggle will be worth it.

I hope.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on December 10, 2018.

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