I was a very needy child. This didn't come through in vocal calls for attention or from desperate waves of tears. Rather, my neediness did and still does stem from a hunger for validation. I wanted to do things but I wanted people to see me doing them or to be recognized for them without having to beg. This proved to be a problem because what I was interested in deep down was not something most of my family cared for. That thing, of course, was writing, and my uncle inspired me to write by doing something very simple.
I wasn't that child who wrote fun little stories or bravely wrote whatever they wanted. I kept my ideas to myself and resigned myself to a position as a spectator and reader as opposed to a creator. I wasn't sure how to ask for what I needed at the time because I was in nowhere near the place where I could understand it.
I wasn't sure how to ask for what I needed at the time because I was in nowhere near the place where I could understand it.
One day, out of nowhere, my uncle changed everything. He didn't take me to a museum, or give me a classic book, or give me a long drawn out speech. What he did was much simpler. He offered me his ears, and no, not in the Van Gogh sense. He told me simply, as I held my blank, black marble notebook, that if I wrote something he would listen.
For the first time in ever, I felt like I had an audience, like my writing existed outside of my brain and heart. It became more real and less solitary for me in a single moment. I was excited to get started because I wanted to read him something before I went to bed that night. I simply couldn't imagine missing this opportunity because I didn't know if it'd ever come again.
It became more real and less solitary for me in a single moment. I was excited to get started because I wanted to read him something before I went to bed that night.
I ran with whatever came to my mind, as children should do. My main character was, of course, a girl. For reasons I can't remember, this young lady had to go on a quest. She quickly assembled a group through her travels and continued on her way to the destination that I forgot. The story probably wasn't super coherent or complex. The romance progressed way too fast and was far from realistic. I mean, the main character and her love interest cuddled on one of the first nights of the adventure. But none of that matters. What matters is that I flexed my creative muscles, and let myself be free, doing what even adults are afraid to do.
I cleared my throat a dramatic number of times to emphasize the greatness of my upcoming performance as my uncle settled down for my reading. Within moments I ran him through the tale I'd concocted, which among many things included a wild-man character based on Robin Williams from Jumanji and a villain who was none other than the devil from Hell himself. He paid attention the whole time and honestly, I felt like such a star.
He paid attention the whole time and honestly, I felt like such a star.
Before I knew it, I was done reading. I looked to my uncle for his response and while I can't remember what he said or did, I know that it was positive and affirming. To be honest, we didn't keep up the tradition for very long. A few months, let alone a year or two, is all it takes for a kid to become jaded. It also didn't help that I didn't live with my uncle. But in the end, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
I don't think my uncle ever intended to remain my audience for life, because, eventually, even good things come to an end. I think he wanted to do little more than just get me started, to show me that writing could be fun. I continued the story, without my uncle listening to me. The characters' personalities became a bit more real, the plot was less jumbled, and the romance even became less cheesy. I created something that was my own and I was proud of it.
I created something that was my own and I was proud of it.
My uncle gave me so much and I intend to pass it on. We can't just hold the good we get in life. We need to pass it on. I want to do what my uncle did for me for someone else, whether it be one of my little brothers, or my little sister, or one of my cousins. I don't want to waste my life trying to come up with perfect, grand gestures when I can be doing simple, small gestures that make just as much of a difference.
Image: Facebook/Jayson Flores