November 23rd of 2015 is the day my life shifted into a new (and frightening) gear. My son Thor Alexander Truax was born. I knew this new addition would change my life, but I wasn’t entirely sure just what this meant.
Before Thor came I was a police officer, before that a Homeland Security scholar, and before that eight years of military service. My entire adult life, up to this moment, was spent making myself better, smarter, stronger. My identity and self-worth orbited around my work. I remember driving my police cruiser to work on my last day and turning in my gun, badge, and gear. At the time, turning my back on this job and explaining I was going to be a stay-at-home dad, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done (despite how much I hated that job). I felt useless.
Even in the hospital when I saw Thor for the first time I didn’t have that “ah-ha” moment. It’s horrible to write, but it’s the truth. I wanted that moment so badly, but all I could think of was all the things that needed to happen. Double check the car seat, make sure documents are in order, check out of the hospital, help Heather walk to the vehicle.
It was a few weeks before the moment came. Thor was crying, I was trying everything I could to calm him down, and nothing was working. I put him down on the bed in his tiny swaddle and just stepped back. I was absolutely defeated. He just continued bawling. Then for a few seconds he stopped. He blinked his little mole eyes and squinted toward me. Then it happened. The moment.
He needed me. He needed me more than any job, or title, or position could ever need me. He needed me to be there, to protect him, to guide him. If my life was a book, this moment was my paradigm shift. I picked him back up, and of course, he continued crying. It was okay, because the more I think about it, if he would have stopped in that moment, I probably would have started.
The weeks following this epiphany really made me examine my life. Was I living a life based on the prestige of my current job, or based on the joy I derived from it? It was the former. This needed to change.
This brings me to writing and blogging. For me, they are one in the same. I blog about writing, because I enjoy learning and sharing what I find out. It solidifies the information in my brain housing unit when I write about it in my own words. Writing has always been a passion, but it was a passion repressed.
As a child I wrote essays that won academic awards, and in the military one of my duties was as a journalist. Despite my skill and ability, it wasn’t something I was particularly proud of. If someone asked me what I did in the military I would give them the cool version (the version I felt gave me the most prestige). I was a Combat Cameraman. I deployed to Iraq with Army Special forces. I did important work. Respect me.
It was the lie I used to bolster my precious ego. To maintain the illusion I was creating of the professional bad ass. It was the murder and betrayal of the little boy who grew up as an only child in the deep country. A boy who read Calvin and Hobbes underneath the blankets with a flashlight when he was supposed to be sleeping. The boy who imagined himself throwing the One Ring into the mouth of Mount Doom. The boy who would would trace comic books and rewrite the dialogue bubbles.
If I could have been honest a long time ago, then I would have written multiple books by now. I love the craft, the work, the feeling of looking at something and saying, “I made this.” There is a tangible product afterwards. A feeling of completion.
It took the birth of my son to realize how important this sentiment is. The ability to do what you love and revel in the fruits of your labor is admirable. The strength to honestly assess what it is you are passionate about and pursue it is even more noble. In this way, Thor saved me. Even as a helpless little bundle who needs me to do everything for him – he saved me. With tiny baby fingers he hacked away the illusion and left me bare.
So today my writing advice isn’t about writing at all, it’s about life. Don’t wait until you are almost 30 to pursue what matters. Don’t let a job define who you are. Do what you love. Do what makes you happy. Shed the titles. Enjoy the process.
That’s it for today. Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!