The Endless Phase


There are 12 commonly accepted phases (or stages) of life, and they’re laid out something like this:

1.Prebirth:  Potential
2.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.

14 comments

  1. Music has always been an important part of my life and always will. Writing? Now that just might be a phase.

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  2. I know writing isn't just a phase for me. I've been doing it too long.

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  3. Definitely not a phase for you DL. You stop, but always come back to it. I've had many "phases" in my life - dancing, stitchery, puzzles, word games - but those feel like phases. Sometimes I think writing is just a phase, and will eventually lose its obsessive appeal. Probably will, and I may be on that downward spiral even now. But, like you, I suppose i'll ride the phase as long as it lasts, maybe stop and restart a couple times.

    Worse ways to pass through mid life :)

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  4. I definitely do not believe writing is a phase for you! If you keep coming back, time and time again, it's a part of you - and there ain't nothing you can do about it! I do think, however, that we need breaks. Maybe the writing breaks are a phase. I know I'm tired out myself and I'm taking 2015 off - I'll still be writing but just for pure enjoyment.

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  5. The phases of life can interfere with how able you are to write. But when you're a writer (like you are), it will always find you. Sooner or later.

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  6. Personally, I don't see myself as benevolent. I think I'll stick with playful, imaginative, ingenuous, passionate, enterprising, and occasionally contemplative. Yup, that's me.

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  7. Based on what I've learned about you over the years, Bone, I'd say that the "Writing" part of your life is just a "phase" in the same way that "Breathing" is.

    You can stop it for a while if you need to in order to deal with getting temporarily submerged by the waves of life, but you can't stop doing it for too long. :)

    Set your Phasers on stun and write on, my friend!

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  8. I think writing was/is/will be, a phase for sure. I personally think everything in life. Growing up, having kids, growing old, and everything in between are nothing but phases in ones life. And even though writing is currently a "phase", it will always be a passion, just like everything else.

    Write on my friend!! Great post.

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  9. Writing is a passion and a part of my life. I'm sure that's the case for you, too.
    I have read that list, too, and I'm thankful to see creativity in the younger age group, but I don't think it stops there. I think we continue to be creative, passionate, and sometimes benevolent. :)

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  10. One of my sisters and my dad definitely do the rapid phase thing - maybe not monthly, but every year or two it seems they switch. I feel very lucky that I've always had two strong passions since I was like five. Writing of course, and horses. Still doing both almost thirty years later, so I figure it's not a phase :)

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  11. Oh yes, the phases thing. I'm still in phase one, but I'm getting better at it.

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  12. I understand what you're saying here. Writing has been a part of my life since childhood, but I went through a decades long phase of not doing it. So, which is the real phase, then? ;)

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  13. I've always loved the act of writing... with pen and paper.
    From childhood, I'd sit with pen and paper and write poems. Then came the teen years and pen-pal phase, which means I wrote tons of letters to people all over the world.
    Then came the writing words of songs in songbooks.
    Then I became a teacher and teachers always have a pen and book in hand...
    Through all of this, I didn't for one moment think that it would go anywhere else...
    So here I am. I still write longhand. I'm addicted to flash fiction. What does all of this mean? I don't know. (you just brought it to my attention now so I'm thinking about it...)

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  14. We have very similar trajectories. I also got back into writing when I had more time at home. But now that I'm back to work full time and getting involved in other projects, my output is definitely suffering. I'm still at it, but it's become more of a balm than a full-time crusade.

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