Who can hope when they never know when the darkness will arrive?
I have a key that I wear around my neck. My husband bought it for me in a shop in Seaport Village. The word, CREATE, is stamped on the key. It was made by the homeless in Los Angeles as a program to help get people off the street. The key came with instructions. I am supposed to wear it until what I am hoping for, working towards, or dreaming about, comes true. Then I am supposed to give the key to someone else so they can wear it until their hopes, dreams, etc. come true. After giving away the key, I am supposed to write my story about the key and who I have given it to and why (they have a website for tracking keys and their stories, also they have other words to choose from besides, create).
The first few months I had the key it sat in its original powder blue box on our counter. I thought about giving it to one of my writer friends. Every day I would look at the box and think, I should wear that, or I should give it away.
About six weeks ago, I took the key and chain out of the box and put it around my neck. I’m not used to dreaming about things that I can accomplish. My illness and the consequences of bad choices, have kept me from having too many hopes or dreams.
Shortly after putting the necklace on, I sat down on my office chair with the chain around my neck and the key in my hand staring at the word, CREATE. “What do I most want to create?” I asked myself. The answer was simple, “Essays. Not poetry, the lost dream of my pre-schizophrenia days. Even though I have published a fair amount of poems, I want to write essays.” I answered myself.
The desire to write essays is relatively new to me. I always dreamed of being a poet. I wrote my first nonfiction piece in graduate school about fifteen months ago and it was very well received. I started falling in love with nonfiction at that time. My dream was to write a memoir about living with schizophrenia. I had that dream for months. I went to workshops about memoir, and I hired a writing coach. I entered a piece of the writing I was working on in a competition where the winning pieces would be performed as monologues in a theater. My piece was accepted and will be performed next Tuesday.
During the writing of the memoir, I published a short book of essays and poems about my life, mostly about living with schizophrenia. After the publication of the book, I started to lose all interest in finishing my memoir.
Now when write, I work on essays. I am having pretty good luck getting my essays published too. I have a dream of writing ten publishable essays over the next ten or eleven weeks. I have a short bucket list of publications that are my ultimate dream of getting accepted in.
For the first time that I can remember, I am starting to dream. It feels hopeful, bright, and good.
Once in a while I jump way ahead of myself and think about the story I will write when I give the key away. Back up, slow down, one word at a time.