Discover more from Things I Wrote Down
An artifact fell from my journal to the floor, a memory hyperlinked my past and future.
Two snapshots on walking and writing and why both have changed my world.
Snapshot one. My Malaysian runway.
Years ago, living in Malaysia, I walked a stretch of road nearly every morning and night. I called it my runway. A place to pray, think, exercise.
I worked out many a problem, hatched a thousand ideas. Walked miles with friends in conversation. If I had a smartwatch at the time, I wager the steps recorded on the stretch of concrete during that three-year span would have been enough to circumnavigate the globe.
Go ahead. Fact check me.
I walked in the early hours of the morning. And then in the early evenings. Because it’s near the equator, Malaysia is dark until 6:30 am and by 7 pm every day, like a perpetual Canadian winter, only it’s 25C with over 70% humidity (Fact check me again).
That meant there were always street lamps lighting the way. And early in my adventure there I noticed how my shadow, so small when just passing underneath a light post, extended, growing as I walked toward the next post.
This daily visual became a metaphor of who I was and all I was growing and walking into. As a man, as a believer, as a writer.
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Snapshot two. A loose scrap of a tree, of a dream.
A life-long journaler, I have a spot on my office bookshelf where the old journals live. These are not mere books. They are worlds. Histories. They must some day be burned. (Mental note to self: Write that into your last will and testament).
I’m only half joking.
A few weeks ago, a loose scrap of paper fell from my journal. It’s an A4 size sheet of graph paper, odd-shaped and long to the North American eye.
The scribbled-upon scrap was folded into an old, leather-bound journal. We moved mid-Summer to a new home and it’s taking time to unbox, set up rooms, organize the bookshelves.
On it were a couple notes about writing that I captured years ago, during the time I daily walked that flat stretch of Malaysian roadway.
I’d scribbled notes and a few sketches about the ways I would write in the future. At this time, my life as a writer and communicator was beginning to consciously unfold. I wrote down that I’d write:
in creative and inspiring ways (the image then that came to mind was of da Vinci’s double helix staircase).
in practical and menial ways (the image that came to mind was of wooden bridges, stone pathways).
in new and unexpected ways (the images that came to mind then were of dirt paths in sprawling, grassy vistas).
After I picked up the note—this artifact of memory and hope from the past—then scanned my scribbles, I almost dropped it again. In gratefulness and delight. Because I realized each picture, each projection, has become reality.
I look back and marvel that I’ve written down each of these pathways. As a playwright, author and screenwriter. As a communications professional for purposeful brands, including my current role with this billion dollar one. And I’ve had the pinch-me experiences to share words and ideas in unexpected places, for instance with a tribe in Kenya, with Dalits in India, with refugees hiding in the jungle or undocumented migrants incarcerated in Malaysia.
All these expectedly unexpected experiences have come to be. And I want more.
So write it down. Walk it out.
If you’ve read to this point and joined me on my little walk down memory lane, sharing two meaningful snapshots, then thanks. But this retro is more than a personal indulgence. And I offer it to you, tired and wonderful soul, as encouragement.
With a bit of mischief and some urgency I encourage you to:
Get outside of your living space to walk and think and pray. Write down your aspirations and dreams. Then walk toward them, through them, into more of them.
After a busy season of change, in which I was sleeping past the alarm and not walking in the early hours, I’ve started walking in the early mornings again.
When this artifact fell from my journal to the floor, the memory hyperlinked my past and present, reminded me of the potential latent in my future, if only I write it down and walk it out.
So I’m finding time, in the off hours, in the tired hours, when the kids are quiet or asleep, to write more purposefully in these ways again (especially creatively).
Writing and communicating has been a gift for me. A gift I’ve chosen to unwrap and unpack. A gift that’s brought so much meaning and value to my own life. And to my surprise, to others too.
As I walked this morning under the lamp light, my shadow reappeared. Directly under the light the shadow was small. But as I walked it stretched between the lights morphed and grew. Another glimpse of the future.
Know that the gifts in your life are there for you to enjoy and to bless others with.
If you needed a reminder of that go do some unpacking, some time-warping, some walking.
What’s a place or a space you go to think, pray, create? I’d love to hear. Share it in the comments!