I’ve changed over the years and, as I look at myself more closely, I see that I’m still changing. Now, the changes that have taken place have not always been huge, dramatic changes. In fact, most of them have been incremental, infinitesimal, so minute in some cases that they weren’t noticed until years later. In short, I am not the man I was yesterday, nor will be tomorrow. Yet, I am still the same. Strange, isn’t it?
This blog post isn’t going to be a deep, philosophical treatise on this topic, but I did think it was important to mention.
There is an inevitable question that most undoubtedly is running through people’s head as they read this: how have I changed (according to myself)? Well, I will give you three examples that I’ve observed in my own life.
I don’t feel as happy as I once did. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to confess that I’m deeply depressed nor that the life has gone out of me now that I’m 40. And maybe “happy” isn’t the right word. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve lived through a decade of cynicism in my own life and this just may be the byproduct of that outlook. Lewis himself states, “A man whose mind was formed in a period of cynicism and disillusion, cannot teach hope or fortitude.” I would put an addendum to this and say, “A man whose mind spent a time in a period of cynicism and disillusion, must find hope and fortitude again.” I, however, don’t like this change in me. God has blessed me with a good life and I don’t want to express an ungrateful attitude toward Him over that. It’s just that things that once excited me have lost their flair. I see it in my writing and things that once inspired me.
Perhaps it is not that I’ve lost happiness as much as it is that the way I’ve seen the world has changed. OR, perhaps the way I now see the world has contributed to this perceived loss of happiness. (This is not to say that I’m not happy. I’m just saying that I don’t feel AS happy as I did in my twenties.) Maybe this is a part of growing older, coming to grips with one’s mortality. (Wow! I know. It just took a dark and depressing turn.) Oh well, whatever I’m feeling and whatever the cause may be, it is one minor change that has grown on top of another over the years. Perhaps this why a portion of the books in the Scar of the Downer series center on finding hope in the darkness.
One more thought, which was brought to my attention by my wife. Now the meaning was in the words I’ve written, but the word itself wasn’t. Words are important, however, so I should not fail to mention. Contentment. That is the true goal, not happiness, since happiness is circumstantial and fleeting – a truly difficult, intangible element to hold on to for very long.
The second change I’ve noticed sort of ties in with number one. When I would write in my late twenties, I would wait until my wife and daughter were asleep before I sat down at my desk and typed away. Throw in a few years and some gray hair, I don’t find myself writing at night that much anymore. If truth be told, I find myself falling asleep on the couch. Back then, I didn’t need much inspiration to sit me down and write. I had drive. That, alone, was its own motivation. As the years went on, however, the drive had lessened. But I was in luck. I found the thing to motivate me – two things actually: movie trailers and music. Weird, right?
Well, as the years progressed even further, I discovered that the trailers and music are losing their inspiration. I sometimes find myself stuck staring at a blank page. I know where the story is going, but I’m not so sure anymore how to get there. Even after having two books published, I sometimes find it is more difficult to write now than ever before. See! More incremental changes that have taken place. My creativity could be waning. More pressing matters in life could be pushing it out of my mind. I don’t know. I do know it’s been a struggle as of late.
A third change is the gray hair in my beard and on the side of my head. There’s really nothing more to say on that.
I’m sure if I looked more closely, I could find more incremental changes. Now, all of these changes do not have to be permanent. Even the gray hair can be colored if I so desire. Perhaps some of these are nothing more than then the normal fluctuations of life. We’ll see. Who knows? Maybe this time next year I’ll be writing how I’ve changed again, but with a darker head of hair.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.