i hope you don’t mind the lateness of the hour
but sometimes i can’t sleep at night
because i am haunted
by the knowledge that this life isn’t it for me
i see my future unfolding as a series of days
and i don’t know that i’ll ever get to where i want to be
and it haunts me
i spend my days moving stacks of textbooks from one shelf to another
and i am an actor
i spend my days lifting heavy packages and sorting mail
and i am an artist
does any of this matter?
some months ago, while writing
my collaborator made mention of that story about a person walking down the beach
throwing sea stars back into the waves
it’s especially of interest to me, this story, because i was born on an island
and live on an island
and every time i sit down to make something
i imagine myself, standing at the shoreline, a delicate starfish cupped in my calloused hands
and i am the hero of that story
but it’s late and i’ve been sad all week, remembering things from the past that i did poorly
and things that it’s far far too late to go back and change
or apologize for
and i am suddenly struck by the feeling
that i’m not the person on the beach at all
but one of the starfishes, dry and gasping and waiting to be rescued, gently.
like a ghost, the knowledge of my smallness haunts me at nights
and stands over my bed, making it impossible to sleep
so i reach for my phone to text my best friend.
at this late hour, i can admit things freely
my fingers flying fast across a luminous phone screen
i’m scared that i’ll never be successful, whatever that means.
i’m scared that people are not interested in my art, my words, my thoughts.
i’m scared that i will never become the person that i want to be
i am haunted by visions of my future, and the knowledge that there are parallel universes
where my left sock is red instead of blue
and i have everything that i ever wanted at my fingertips.
my best friend is smarter than me, and better, and she always has been
so she writes back (many things)
and of all of it, i hear this:
“life matters, too.”
and so maybe it’s enough to strike that fine and flinty matchpoint balance
and swallow down one hundred disappointments
and show up: not backlit, or on the silver screen, or in a limelight
but on sidewalks and roadsides and train station platforms
and wait softly as the tide creeps ever closer.