To Own Your Soul

Your clothes are tired. Your art has lost its feeling. You find yourself longing to go on a novelistic journey to a faraway land. Or take a road trip to a national park. Or buy a slushie from the nearby gas station. Or sit in your car for a few hours and listen to your favorite album. Anything would be fine, really, if it allows you to escape the deafening silence that’s filling your nose and mouth with every breath. There are ways, however, to leap from the assembly line of boring, empty, anxious adults who are, too often, the result of our public education system. By following these instructions, your life can be exciting, mysterious, and most importantly, yours.

The first step to becoming a witty, independent, stylish individual is doing more of what makes you happy. Before today, you may have been unintentionally suppressing your creative spirit and choking out the flame lapping at your chest. You mustn’t put out the fire. You will use it to light many torches and melt many chocolate bars in the not-so-far future. Have you ever pressed a flower between the pages of a book and felt an overwhelming sense of serenity? Have you sat on a skateboard to tie your shoe and felt at home in your surroundings? In order to hone in on your specific interests, you must focus on the small things, for when you add up the smells, words, guitar riffs and magazine cutouts that fill your head when you sleep, you will have the soul of a person who isn’t meant to be a follower.

In order to live life the way you’re supposed to, what you’ll need to do next is establish your own unique style. When you’re shopping with your friends, there will be items of clothing that you’ll keep returning to. But why? Everyone says that big striped button-down is ugly. Those earrings are garish and too big for your head. Those shoes are scuffed and ragged from previous owners. Well, who decided that these articles aren’t meant to be yours? Who said they’ll look the same way on you as they have on others before you? You mustn’t wait for someone else to try and pull off an adventurous look. These clothes, like you, have been sitting without life for far too long. Waiting yellows your fingernails and thins your hair. Breathe life into everything you touch. Make people stare. I dare you.

Finally, you must create something. Just like you, art cannot be put into a box. The splinters of the wood will make it angry, and it will pour out of knots in the grain no matter how tightly you nail down the lid. Take inspiration from Picasso and Hokusai. Make something that moves people, and give the world what it’s been deprived of for far too long. And don’t let it stop at pencils and pots of paint. Carve birch logs into tiny boats. Make soft music with water glasses. Write an epic poem to immortalize yourself, and once your hands and body are weary and worn, sleep in a hammock slung between two hickory trees, and dream of a future where colorful birds nest in rooftop gardens and the sidewalks are painted with hopscotch.

Your time is now. There are banjos waiting to be strummed. There are dogs waiting to  be walked across black sand beaches. There is a brick wall in a tired city waiting to be painted over. There are publishers who want to hear the words trapped in your ribcage. There are bikes that need to be fallen off of before you rest. There is a record label that won’t refuse you. None of this matters, however, because you haven’t yet reclaimed your destiny. Your life has not yet begun, so you cannot yet give it up. So march with the band. Study your scribbled notes by the light of the stars. Put time and effort into everything you do, so that when it is your turn to speak, the whole world hears it.

“To Own Your Soul” © 2020 by Sydney Smith.

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