There are 12 commonly accepted phases (or stages) of life, and they’re laid out something like this:
1.Prebirth: Potential2.Birth: Hope
3.Infancy (Ages 0-3) Vitality
4.Early Childhood (Ages 3-6): Playfulness
5.Middle Childhood (Ages 6-8): Imagination
6.Late Childhood (Ages 9-11): Ingenuity
7.Adolescence (Ages 12-20): Passion
8.Early Adulthood (Ages 20-35): Enterprise
9.Midlife (Ages 35-50): Contemplation
10.Mature Adulthood (Ages 50-80): Benevolence
11.Late Adulthood (Age 80+): Wisdom
12.Death & Dying: Life
Intellectually I understand what that list is trying to tell me…that a phase represents a distinct stage of development, or a temporary pattern of behavior that follows a natural progression…but emotionally I tend to believe otherwise. I can’t help but flashback to my youth where I’d frequently overhear my parents discussing how my infatuation with comic books, or action figures, or wanting to be a forest ranger (that was in college) was just a passing phase. How many times have you heard something similar? How many times have you said something similar? You tell me…at what point does a fixation – a passion – normally manifested during a particular phase of the developmental process…become more than that?
Take my brother (older by one year) for example. He goes through phases like I go through clean underwear. One month his phase is souping up old cars, the next its scuba diving, the next its dirt bikes, the next its gun collecting. And when he goes through a phase, HE GOES THROUGH A PHASE, meaning that he becomes totally wrapped up in it and commits all of his time (and a lot of his money). But when he moves on to his next compulsion, he loses interest in the previous (which means they’ll be a flurry of activity on Ebay soon).
Seeing this behavior in my brother I’ve been asked by family members – and frankly I’ve poised the same question to myself – if my writing (and all that entails) was just a phase? I bet a few of you have even asked the same question of yourself. For my part, I’m going to do my best to answer that question here today.
The seed that led to my infatuation with the written word and the roots that subsequently spouted from it were planted in junior high, blossomed with school newspaper in high school, and continued spreading as I moved into college majoring in Journalism. But this passion went dormant shortly thereafter, with only an occasional flash of life, as I was forced to confront the realities of GPA’s, school loans, early morning alarms and cold dinners, heart-stopping love, dirty diapers, mortgages, coaching clinics, scholarship applications and everything else that tend to induce follicle disembarkation and enlarged prostrates. It wasn’t until two of my three children had flown the coop that I found myself with spare time I was unaccustomed to. All it took was a sprinkle of attention and the warmth of my interest to rekindle a decades old love. That was almost eight years ago, and the funny thing is…I feel like I’m just now hitting my stride.
Is this a phase? Though I may stop writing for a while…which I’ve done several times…that doesn’t mean I’ve moved on or that anything has ended. This may be a phase…but if it is, it’s an endless one…with multiple levels to mark my continued development. I consider myself a work in progress, and that means the definition of ME is open-ended, but a piece that will always be part of that answer will be…writer.