After a car accident, my friend had to tell the cops her version of what happened, as did the other driver. My friend explained every step in detail; the other driver was angry and said that my friend had come outta nowhere.
“In my experience”– the cop told my friend as an aside, in an effort to assure her that everything would be just fine– “the driver who says the other person came ‘outta nowhere’ is nearly always at fault. Means they weren’t paying attention.”
In my college writing class, my professor wrote “Have you thought about grad school?” at the bottom of my first essay. I ignored it. By the end of the year, the red scribble read “GO TO GRAD SCHOOL!!!!” I ignored that too. And with only a month left until graduation, when he told me that the college was going to start offering a BFA in Creative Writing the next fall and promised me a spot, there were way too many practical considerations standing in my way to commit. The whole time, I thought to myself, “Man, this guy’s fixation on me writing really came outta nowhere.”
I got my BFA in Painting instead (clearly the far more practical choice), a degree that requires a solo show of your work.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to include snippets from my journals that kind of explain more about my paintings!” I thought. So I did, mounting sentences on canvas and nestling them beside their larger and more colorful counterparts.
A year or so later, a friend said, “You know what I remember about your show? Not your paintings. I mean, not that they’re not good but– what really stuck with me were those little canvases. The journal pages. I didn’t know you could write like that.”
“Really?” I said. I mean, that was a random thing to mention outta nowhere. Who would remember that?
My BFA led into an amazing job opportunity painting murals and faux finishes in high-end casinos. Eventually the constant toxic chemical exposure caught up with me, right around the same time the recession hit the Las Vegas construction industry. While I wrestled with chronic migraines and nausea, the company I worked for lost 6 contracts and 2 years’ worth of work in the space of about 3 weeks as investors pulled out in a panic. With the future suddenly uncertain and my health spiraling the drain, I decided a change was in order. But what to do?
Writing, I thought. Followed immediately by second-guessing myself with a “Huh. That idea sure came outta nowhere.”
This year of foundation has been a real pain in my ass. I spent the first half scrambling around for new careers, only to finally realize that what I want isn’t a new career; it’s a more holistic life. So the last few months, I’ve committed to spending more time on my own passions and felt better than I have in forever.
I also realized this year that, at heart, I am a writer. Even if I took forever to figure that out.
All this time I thought writing was just one more whim that came outta nowhere. It’s not. Writing is what I’m meant to do. I just haven’t been paying attention.
Standing upon that knowledge and fortified by the solidity of Dan’s steady job, I feel like we absolutely achieved what we wanted to this year: we’re on solid ground, after years of uncertainty. This year, we established a foundation strong enough to let us build upward and outward in all the directions we can dream.
What’s your ‘outta nowhere’– and what do you plan to do about that?