I generally use this space to share excerpts, poems, short stories, drabbles, and more, but today, I wanted to share one of my paintings with you.
An American author, Jeff Goins, once said, “Do you know why birds sing just before dawn? Scientists believe it’s to tell their mates that they made it through the night, as a way of saying, ‘I’m still here.’ Maybe that’s why we sing, too, why we create art — as a way of saying, ‘I made it. I’m still here.'”
I remember telling one of my earliest Stargazers that I wanted to create a legacy, that I wanted people to remember me. His response surprised me. He said he knows we’ll be forgotten. That he knows his legacy is like footsteps in the sand, bound to be written over, and erased over time.
I was momentarily devastated. Even when I was at my lowest lows, I wanted my memory to be imprinted on everyone and everything I touched. I wanted to be a household name: van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, somebody everyone knew. Isabelle Palerma. I wanted people’s faces to illuminate when they thought of me.
But in a way, although I’ll leave my writing and my art behind, I am not destined to be anything beyond what I am. This isn’t surrender. This is me, baring to admit that this moment now is what I need to focus on, not what can be culled from my remains.
It has stopped me from being so afraid. Instead of making every move tenuous and full of fear, I have become liberated. No one will remember my failings, so I dare to fail greatly. No one will remember my day-to-day life, so I am free to be that person who is light to others.
I can sing in the grocery store, dance that silly dance when I enjoy my food, write what I want to write (even if it’s nonsense), and paint what makes me happy. I was finally freed, untethered by what society expected of me. My fears were obliterated. All we were guaranteed was this moment. Now.
I have begun to embrace my strange and nurture my self-expression. I have forgiven myself my past and discovered how to live in the season of now.
In talking about my childhood with some, I often thought of myself in ugly terms: the rebel, the misfit, the loser, but what if I was just experimenting with my self-expression and everyone around me were just cardboard cutouts?
I might not leave a legacy, but every time I pick up a pen, a paint brush, whatever it is, I can call out into the early dawn, “I’m still here.”