The Convoluted Path To Awesome on Prezi
(This Prezi requires Flash to view. Use the forward and back arrows to navigate. If you can’t view the Prezi you can take a look at the PDF version of my little adventure here. You’ll have to follow the arrows, do a little zooming, and tilt your head to the side at least once. What? Adventures are not easy.)
So there are two things I have to talk about here. The treasure chest — the unexpected thing I found at the end of a journey I didn’t even know I was on– and the fact that sometimes giving yourself the space to take those random detours means you’ll end up somewhere better than you were aiming for.
The Treasure Chest
That treasure chest is 826 National. 826 National is an organization that supports writing and tutoring centers for students across the nation in the most creative awesome way possible– through a Pirate Supply shop, The Museum of Unnatural History, The Superhero Supply Store, the Bigfoot Research Institute, and a Robot Supply and Repair store. (See all storefronts here.) These are actual retail stores that also house writing centers for kids and young adults… frankly I think the stores in and of themselves are an awesome idea, but it’s the writing that is near and dear to my heart.
For eighteen years I equated “writing” with “English Class.” English class meant rules about grammar, rules about formatting outlines, rules the first and last sentences of a paragraph, the number of paragraphs in a paper, the size of your font and margins. English class was boring topics, stilted sentences, and dear god, homework.
I tried desperately to test out of freshman English in college, and barring that decided I would spend the entire class in the back corner with my head on the desk not learning about present participles or whatever higher learning teaches you about English. Instead I had a really great teacher, and that’s all it took. All of the sudden all of the rules about writing went away and it became fun, creative, funny. For me it turned into telling stories, not writing papers, and telling stories eventually turned into DIYdiva, and here I am with more opportunities than I even really have time for, writing about what I love, because I didn’t test out of freshman English. Which was purely by chance, really.
What occurs to me when I read about organizations like 826 National is that with tutoring and workshops like they provide I may never have even wanted to test out of English, I might not have come thisclose to losing the opportunities I have today.
One thing I never have a lot of these days is time, but the irony of the fact that I was out searching for images of skulls for a post I was writing and somehow ended up learning about these really awesome organizations that support creative writing in students was not lost on me. So I’ve offered to volunteer some of the little free time I have left to Ann Arbor’s Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair, because first, who doesn’t love robots? And also I believe that sometimes when you end up somewhere unexpected, the universe might be trying to tell you something. We’ll see if they can find a use for a somewhat crazy powertool wielding blogger.
The Unexpected Journey
I had to talk about the treasure chest first to really get a sense for how much I appreciate the convoluted path that took me there. With the new year and DIY Life I’ve been thinking a lot about goals. Goals and lists and being organized. Those are all good things, but what I learned while writing this post that was supposed to be about skulls and creativity (not treasure chests and robot shops) is that you have to leave room for the unexpected.
If I hadn’t decided to start this new section of my website, or take a picture of the door at work, or search out a better picture for the header of a post I was having trouble writing, I might never have found that treasure chest – something that is both important to me and inspiring.
I feel like there are a lot of lessons hidden in this story. Lessons about letting go of one idea and finding a bigger one, about appreciating the twists and turns of a journey, about giving yourself some breathing room when it comes to goals and lists and always being on-task. And I think the reason I’m writing about it is because that’s what I want DIY Life to be about– following that DIY attitude that says “I’m going to give myself the space to try something different here, and it may be awesome or it may be a disaster, but at least I’m going to learn something.” That’s the kind of life I’m after.
Even More Awesome
Here are links to some of the really cool things I found on my journey:
For the now-defunct skulls post (but why waste good links):