What is your passion? What is that thing you love to do so much that doing it doesn't feel like work at all? Maybe you're a musician, a painter or a teacher. Maybe it's your family, your church, a place or a cause. Got it? Now, try and remember when you first became aware of it. Where were you? How old were you? Did you learn it from someone else? Or did you discover it on your own?
I was four years old when I started being a writer, just a little boy who fell in love with telling stories. Stephanie Smith was 4 when she started writing as well. There is more than that shared between our life stories though. We were both profoundly affected by the theatre, our involvement in it predicted our lives. We both love music and learned to play instruments when we were younger. We both love to read and to observe the world around us and we are both working writers here in Charleston. Not all of our common experiences are the positive ones though. For example, we are both aware of the hellish banality that is Wichita Falls, Texas. I assure you, it is a place that marks your mind and your soul forever.
I have often felt isolated in my life, as I am sure so many of us do and have. A lot of this isolation was me feeling that my path was mine alone, that no one could understand it entirely. To some extent that is true. We all take our own paths through life, with their own particular circumstances and specificities being played out over the days, months and years. That doesn't mean that people haven't been the same places we have, whether that is a geographical place or a moment in time where we both discovered something at the same time. It's a rare gift to share so many things with another person, to have such a perspective on their story because there are so many similarities to yours. When you do find it, it is a time to celebrate with smiles, cries, laughter and some coffee.
Stephanie is an observer. You can sit across from her and watch her eyes moves through the sea of the world, picking up details and moments that many would just allow to float by. Years ago a friend of mine told me that the goal for a present mind was to not only be able to be in the moment totally. This is exactly what she does. She hears every word, sees details, perceives changes, it makes me want to see her photographs and read her writing. It's a level of observation I have always wanted, but never really gained.
Stephanie is a writer, a photographer, a mother, a lover of music and of life. She is a person who knows that the best way to learn is to jump in and give it a try. Her story about learning photography is awesome to hear, heightened by understanding how much passion and love there is for it. It's the same with her writing. We talk a lot about the projects we are both working on and I learn a little about the novel her daughter is writing, about the awe her child's process inspires in her. It's fun to sit and talk. We are both misfits armed with dreams and stories, with talents, drive and a deep desire to be present in a million places with whatever time we might have. Stephanie is a dreamer, who doesn't give up.
"We choose how to act."
Stephanie and I have also both seen some tough road in our lives. Everybody has faced some, in one form or another. For many people, they become a reason to be derailed, to accept a predetermined destiny based upon the circumstances of our lives. Not for Stephanie. She has chosen a future, a destiny made from her own effort and her own will. It's in that phrase that we also have so much in common, defying odds and doubts, deciding for ourselves what will be in our lives and where they will go. How can you not love that? How can you not call that living your dreams day-to-day? You can't.
We talked until we absolutely had to leave our meeting place, but not before we covered the globe in our conversation. From music to process, from my love of Hunter S; Thompson's gonzo journalism to book recommendations, we more steps down the same road, only now at the same time, together, as friends.
They say if you make one good friend in a year you are lucky. After 21 days, I am fabulously wealthy.
Favorite Dinosaur: T-Rex
Why: Just because (Often the best answer to that question.)