Farewell from a columnist: Do what scares you
“You have no control over how your story begins or ends. But by now, you should know that all things have an ending. Every spark returns to darkness. Every sound returns to silence. Every flower returns to sleep with the earth. The journey of the sun and moon is predictable. But yours is the ultimate art.”
— Suzy Kassem
This column marks a year since my first was published in the Post Independent. And this will be the last I will write for the Post Independent. To every thing, turn, turn, turn. A year in itself is a season. And so we turn.
I could wax on about the symbolism of change and pretend that I’m moving on to greener pastures, and that I have outgrown this small-town newspaper. But this would not be authentic. I perhaps will be moving on to a different green pasture — but if so it is one that I do not yet have the coordinates of. I have not outgrown this one, and I will not pretend that it was a great day in earth school to be told that the data didn’t show that my column was resonating with readers.
It didn’t surprise me much, actually, as I always had to dig to find my own column on the website, it seemed to never actually show up under columns more than a day after I had written it, where others written months ago were still there. But maybe that’s just me making myself feel better about a little sting to my ego that I simply just wasn’t resonating — and all is numbers, and the numbers don’t lie.
Why? There are probably a hundred reasons. Maybe I don’t have enough Facebook friends, Tweet enough, network enough, market and sell myself enough. I don’t have a business or a brand to promote, and so those things are definitely not top of mind. Maybe I talk about birds too much. Maybe I’m a little too crazy for most people. Maybe people just didn’t like the titles enough to click on it, and then click “share” so they would register a count. Maybe, I’ll never know. But it is all good.
The point is that in the end, no one aspect can ever truly evaluate an experience like I have had writing for the PI, both in editorial and in feature correspondence writing. It has opened me up to my potential and passion for prose, even if it is not in this market.
In the end, (which appears to be now), I have gratitude and pride for the courage I had to call up the (then) new editor of the Post Independent last summer and to ask if he would give me a chance. I am so thankful that he did, and to the PI readers who did read and reached out to me. I have made some lifelong friendships through this column, and perhaps that was the purpose. If I never know the cosmic purpose, those people themselves are incredible enough reason for some crazy prayers of thanks.
According to the sage and writer Caroline Myss, the language of God is paradox. What looks big is small, what looks dark has light, what looks treacherous is safe. And perhaps what looks like a dead end is in fact, a new trail. For me, the pursuit of my self and purpose through writing is my ultimate art. And the sound of my dream will never be completely silent.
Please don’t let yours be. Take a risk, listen to what it is that calls to you. What do you spend your time doing when you have time? What do you lose yourself in and realize that you haven’t even felt time pass? Do that more. And finally, do what scares the crap out of you, like admit your fear, your sadness, your failures — because that is when you will realize exactly how truly powerful you are, and exactly what you are capable of. It will be worth it, no matter how long its season is. It will lead you to pastures that you don’t have the coordinates of, and whatever colors they are, they will be brilliant. Find your own ultimate art, and you will find your purpose. And then keep doing that, even if no one is clicking. You are only ever really doing it for yourself in the first place.
Thank you, Glenwood. Thank you, GSPI. See you on the flip side.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.