Past, Present, Future

Think Piece (Academic Purpose) Written By Christian J. Ashliman

The pursuit of mastery in the field of writing is an ongoing, never-ending, bumpy road that leads through twists and turns, around sharp cliffs, down racing slopes, across open fields, and eventually, out onto a blank page. Writing is one of the great passions of my life, but it wasn’t always that way. I remember a time when writing seemed like a chore, a boring act that was required as part of a school essay in a subject that I couldn’t care less about. My teachers always told me to pay special attention to writing, since it would be in every career or job that I would ever have. To learn about how to present myself professionally on a resume, or in an email; that was where writing could take me. That was where it was supposed to take me. It was always portrayed in a way that made it seem like an addon to some other construct or activity. Such as, learning how to write could make you a better businessman, or learning how to write could help you become a great therapist, detective, doctor, etc, etc. The thought had never fully occurred to me that I could just write for the sake of writing. That could be the labor of love or the occupation, career, or job; call it what you may. I have always known that I had some yearning towards writing; climbing the ranks of high school grade after grade, I always managed to pull out extremely strong English scores and positive essay and written works grades as well.

It wasn’t until I reached college that I realized that I could focus solely on the ability and joy of writing, rather than the chore it would seem to become when tackling big stacks of homework. Through journaling and analyzing thoughts and emotions that I have, written on a page for me to read back, as well as jotting short stories and fun, creative exercises, I have come to understand that writing can be more personal, creative, revealing, and relieving for me than anything else. It is the ultimate way for me to feel as though I am able to fully express myself, my thoughts, or my feelings. This understanding hasn’t come easily, but I feel like I have welcomed it with open arms. For me, writing has become a vehicle; where it once would be taking me to different locations, taxiing me to various unrelated goals, it now rides the road just for the sake of the adventure, the thrill, and the excitement. Yeah, it might pull over every now and then, or make a pit stop here and there, but it’s true purpose is in service of bettering and growing itself.

Looking ahead has a way of feeling like peering over the edge of a steep cliff, into an abyss that has swallowed the ground below. It’s mystifying and exasperating; causing part of you to consider the call to unknown experience, and take the jump. Meanwhile the other part stares homeward, refusing to gaze at the cliff in the first place, for fear of uncertainty. The cards are dealt, the previous two paragraphs about the past and present (respectively) are taken into account, and the chips fall where they may. If I were to speculate about where I want to end up with writing, or how far I want to take this endeavor, I would probably be selling myself short. The truth is, I am unsure; I believe I have a talent, I believe there is a career out there that I would find flow and happiness with that would make the best use of all of my writing strengths, but I cannot see what it is, where the answer lies, or how to get there. Be that as it may; what’s the old cliche about ‘the journey matters most in the end’? If there is one ideology I have taken from writing, it’s that there is no end. Only growth, change, improvement; that is what I hope for my future in writing, to find some faucet where I can channel myself into a work that is joyful and beautiful to me.

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