Joining the Struggle


Photo by: M. Sanchez 

“No one can keep you from success except yourself. When it’s time to shine, be the brightest.” – Deshun Wang

If you’re like me, you get little to no work done at home, especially after a long day at ‘work-work’. You know, the one that pays for your bills and food (and student loans). Don’t get me wrong, I always head home with a plan in mind. A goal.

I’ll write ten pages tonight. Or five, but read a chapter of that new book I got too.

Suffice to say that I want to get work done.

But once I get home, I just don’t. Or, I work on a completely different project that has nothing to do with what I know I have to do. More like buffer projects that get me through the night. Help me waste time until it’s off to bed.

It’s a hard pattern to break, and I’m coming to realize why: I have to feel comfortable. Now, at home, there is too much comfort. I instantly feel sluggish, and want nothing more than to curl in bed and read, or binge on Netflix.

At Starbucks, Pete’s and others like them, it’s the complete opposite. I’m on alert, feeling rushed, bombarded by too much noise even while wearing headphones.

I think part of being a creative individual is that mass-produced is a turn off. We want originality, style, and that something else. We want to be inspired by our surroundings and feel the possibility.

At least, that’s what I told myself whenever I rejected another potential workplace. I’d walk out after a few hours, thinking this place just isn’t me.

But then, what is me?

On one of my short weekend visits home, I got a glimpse of the answer. My sister took me to this dimly lit cafe inside the lobby of a 1920s – 1940s  theater. It’s located in a street called Miracle Mile. The moment I stepped inside, I felt a shock. Street art jumped from the walls and the deep red and yellow ceiling hinted at ages past. I felt a sense of possibility within myself. I loved the place immediately. And it went beyond the fact that it was in a theater, or that it was a microbrewery and carried stap beer. That’s not something wholly special in and of itself. What really got me was that it was in my home city. A place I’d considered lost in time.

With every visit,  it hits me how much of a patchwork Stockton is, a mixture of old brick and modern glass. Rough faces and new cars. It’s a dangerous place, and now more lonely than in the past, but still struggling to catch up to the new age. It hasn’t given up the fight.

Which, being one of its offspring, means I can’t give up fighting yet either. Even if I have to work out of the most loud, obnoxious, or chaotic of establishments. Even if I have to cut back on sleep and social activities (which or rare, to be honest with you), I’ll work. I’ll keep kicking sloth in the ass and hopefully create something worth publishing.

And in the meantime, I’ll also keep my city in mind. In the people that live there. In my twin sister and her beautiful sketches; my brother and his project car; my mother and her growing collection of dishware, my grandmother and her little room covered in Morning Glory, and my father in his post-amputation recovery. They’re all working, all fighting to create something worthwhile. To gain a sense of fulfillment.

It’s only right I join them in their struggle.