You are conforming. And it is killing you. Why you must create to stay alive.
The first time I was born it was 1972.
A miserable wet morning gave way to a bright, sunny afternoon. T Rex’s Metal Guru screamed out of the radio as Mrs. Adams’ baby screamed down the corridor.
I lived for eleven years. It was nice. I played a lot and I laughed a lot. I used to write stories and poems. I drew and painted. I was a dreamer.
I started to die in 1983. The day I was given homework. I was given some books and told to read them. I didn’t want to. I had other books to read. Better ones. But I did what I was told. I was a good boy.
I carried on dying for the next five years. My spirit died first. They broke it. I read their books. I drew their pictures. And I wrote their stories. The ones they wanted. Not the ones I did. And then my soul died. They had starved it. My creativity was too big and too colorful. They had stopped feeding it. They replaced my ideas about creativity with their ideas about conformity. Their job was done. I was ready. For work.
The second time I was born was in 2015. I had been dead for twenty-seven years. In that time, I had many jobs and a few careers. I went on holiday, I got married and I became a Dad. I had many good times. And a few great ones. But I remained dead.
I knew I was dead because I wore a suit. And short hair. I had a briefcase. And those shiny brogue shoes. Dead men always have a suit, a briefcase and shiny brogue shoes.
I still read when I was dead. And I wrote. But they were professional books and management reports. I created many products and made a lot of money. But all the products were made in my head. With logic and reason. They weren’t made in my heart. With love and passion. And the money? Oh, I spent it. Trying to come back to life. I bought stuff. Lifeless stuff for a lifeless man.
My son brought me back to life. He was six. I was working at home. He came into my room and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was writing a report. He asked me whether a report was like a story. I said it was. Sort of. He asked me to write him a story.
I was born to write. In that moment I knew I had to write to be born.
I stood in a dead man’s shoes and wrote. With each new word, a breath of air. With each new paragraph, a rush of blood. With each new chapter, another contraction. Labour lasted hours. It was beautiful.
The first time I was born, I came with nothing. I was naked.
The second time, I came with a story. And a dead man’s suit.
I have been alive for two years. I have read everyday. I am writing again too. Or learning to.
I have a stand-up desk. It is clean, tidy and clutter-free. Just my computer and a printed story. It is about a little boy and a big Beluga whale.
Hanging on the wall is a suit. It used to belong to a dead man. I won’t need it again. I threw the shoes away too. I won’t need them either. Or their soles. I now have a soul of my own.