I was writing a paper for my AP Lang class. The title of the assignment? The Nothing Essay. Right up my alley, I first thought. An essay about any topic we wanted. All we had to do was relate it to the type of writers we had just read in class. Joyas Voladoras by Brian Doyle is the piece of writing I chose to relate to. If you haven’t read Joyas Voladoras, I highly recommend you do. I audibly gasped at the end and couldn’t believe the beautiful piece of art I just read.
I started writing every single topic that came to my mind on the slip of paper that described the assignment. Writing is one of my favorite things. I use it as my outlet for all my feelings.
I decided this essay was going to be perfect. I had probably over 20 ideas written on my paper. All the most random topics you could imagine that somehow, I already knew how to write about. I knew exactly how I would give meaning to something as simple as a zipper or tinfoil.
After my teacher told us about this essay I couldn’t focus for the rest of class. I was so focused on finding the absolute perfect idea and writing the best essay I’ve ever written.
That is the topic I chose. I spent way longer in my own head than I should have because I wanted to pick something good but not cliché. I think the sun is pretty cliché, so I was a little annoyed with myself. I had originally picked flowers. I would write about how flowers were used in different stages of life like birth, love, death and so many more occasions. I started with bullet points for each paragraph. But I also started writing bullet points about the sun. I realized that my bullet point ideas about the sun were less bullet points and more like paragraphs because I had so much to say.
So, I wrote.
As I was writing, I got nervous that my essay was too personal for school. I was afraid that by the end of the essay my teacher would go to the counselor and tell her she was worried for me because of how dark it got. Turns out, others had pretty personal papers too. The teacher understood. She understands that we are high school students living in a post-pandemic world with piles of things on our plates. She just gets it.
The essay models Joyas Voladoras. It starts factual. What the sun is, facts about the sun and what it provides us. It moves on to how the sun plays a role in the positives and negatives in our life. And by the end, it gets to the meaning of life. The decision we have about living life or ending it. (I will publish the essay separately so that this post isn’t so long.)
But there was something that stuck in my mind throughout this writing process. I thought about the author of another blog. The first post in his blog being about his slippers; not only something that affected his life, but saved it. The author is William Burleson who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. The blog is called Semi-colon and William describes it as, “A weekly journal by a teenager with Bipolar II Disorder covering his pain, hospitalization, and growth”.
I’ve never met William, nor do we even live in the same state, but I hope one day our paths cross and I get the chance to. The crushing depth, vulnerability and relatability in his post’s hits something in me that nothing ever has. He is a complete stranger to me, but it somehow feels like I know him and have known him forever.
It is hard to be a teenager right now. I have so much going on and sometimes it’s hard to just keep going. The first thing I do on Sunday morning when I open my phone is go to my email and open his blog. I know that reading it will give me a sense of comfort knowing there are others who struggle like me. Who just struggle with the difficulties of life. 8:08am on Sunday mornings. That’s a day and time I look forward to.
This post isn’t feeling very much like the bright side of life. But what truly is the bright side in this story is finding someone who writes so beautifully and makes me excited about jumping into another week. I’ve found someone who writes things I can feel with all my heart, and who makes it so that I feel so much less alone.
That is the bright side of this story. And I just hope one day we can meet face to face so I can express my gratitude for him choosing to live.
I will leave you to go read his story because it is not my story to share. I highly encourage you all to do so because it is truly amazing. The link for semi-colon is at the bottom of this post.
Now back to the sun for a minute. It’s something that I have always loved, and for some odd reason, I’ve been so attracted to my whole entire life. If you know me, you know that every single day I get to school an hour early just to sit in the parking lot hoping for the sun to rise. I want to go on an early morning hike to stone mountain just to see the sun rise. Hiking Stone Mountain early morning before the sun rises is the number one thing on my bucket list.
But what is so important about the sun to me, is that it is a reason to keep going. The sun always rises and even when we can’t see it, it’s always there. Without the sun we couldn’t be here and that is how we know that it is still here. Because we are here. If the sun has to show up every day then so do we. I never want to miss a sunrise. That’s why I chose to wake up.
If we chose to give up, we won’t get to see it rise the next day. So chose to keep going. Chose to see the sun for another day.
Link to Semi-colon by William Burleson