There is a story I tell myself about who I am.
There is a story I tell others about who I am too.
Others tell me stories about who they think I am.
They also tell me stories about who I could be. Or should be.
The reality is that not one of these stories is completely accurate. Because I’m all of these stories combined, contradictions and all.
And there are many stories.
There are stories I tell myself about being a writer. And there are stories rejection letters tell me about that too. And there are stories readers tell me about me, as a writer.
There are stories I tell myself about being a husband and father. And there are stories my wife and kids tell me about who I am and should be, as a father.
We are a vast collection of stories spilling over from the projects we do, the people we encounter and the personas we embody.
And we are in a continual, unconscious argument with ourselves about who we think we are, who we think others think we are and who we think we want to be. Or could be. Or should be.
As human beings, we’re not one-dimensional, static creatures. We’re multidimensional, dynamic beings who continually adapt and change in response to the moments we inhabit.
It’s why we can write gripping stories in which we don’t even know the ending. Or why we’re as surprised as our readers by the sudden aha in our poem or painting.
For me, feeling stuck is when I find myself no longer believing one or more of the stories about who I am. They no longer feel aligned in some sort of beautiful, complex harmony.
I’m there now.
But I’ve been there many, many times before.
I don’t panic or try to fix things. I simply embrace the tensions, contradictions, imperfections and all.
Because, to me, art isn’t the pursuit of perfection. Art is perfect beauty rising from human imperfection.
And that’s a story worth telling. Especially in those moments in time when we feel stuck.
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on July 7, 2013.