Monday, September 13, 2010

Change Just One Step ...

And the whole journey could be different.

That's what I was thinking tonight as I wrote to J, who as the editor of community newspaper in Colorado some 20-plus years ago, took a chance and hired me--a high school sophomore with no real journalism experience but a whole lot of desire to learn--as one of her reporters.

Throughout this letter-writing project I've written to (or plan to write to, in the case of names still in the jar) people who have influenced my path as a writer over my lifetime. My 7th grade English instructor. My high school journalism teacher. My advisor at the University of Iowa. And you. Of course I'm not claiming that one person made or broke my career, but I certainly do believe that each and every person made a difference, and the outcome just wouldn't have been the same if I'd changed even one step. So thank you. Thank you for finding a way to give an aspiring journalist a way to get her feet wet, cut her teeth (OK, enough with the metaphors) and collect some bylines.

In writing my letters I often have been struck, not only when writing to people related to my career, by the idea that every step--no matter how seemingly insignificant--influences the whole journey. And when you consider that "journey" is just another way of referring to "life," what are "steps" but experiences and connections with other people? Sometimes the interactions are with our close friends and relatives, people we see time and time again. And other times, we interact with someone briefly, and it's still enough to make a difference.

My experience with J was a positive one. I've found, however, the "don't change a step" pep talk most useful during negative times, whenever I start to think, "What am I doing here?" or "What could this possibly have to do with anything?" Or (my personal favorite) "Now that was a complete waste of time."

But if I change one step-any step--the journey could be different. So let me bless the steps I've taken, fully experience the ones I'm taking and be fearless about the ones to come.

LAST WORDS: I was fascinated to read that a note penned by John Lennon 15 minutes before his murder is now up for sale for $154,000.

2 comments:

pennyjars said...

I just love this project. Here's to 365 great steps!

Lynn, The Jar Keeper said...

Hey there! Thanks for the words of support. @christi also stopped by--I commented to her that I've been a little quiet in Twitterville lately but have been watching my tweeps, including you. I hope to meet you at a tweetup someday--until then, I hope all is well with you and your writing.