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Artist unknown

Artist unknown

I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster, lately.

Students are back, which makes my work days both easier and more difficult. It’s great to be around that enthusiasm and excitement, especially at the start of a new semester, but they come with a set of headaches, too: technical issues, personal issues, conflicts, conundrums, and an air of chaos that’s been missing during the summer months. I know as soon as they settle into classes, the craziness will die down. I just need to make it that far.

Family-wise, I did some traveling over the summer. Mostly up to the old family homestead, which was fun, but the journey is tiring. Especially when work follows the next day. I’m back to Japan again in October, which I’m definitely looking forward to, though I could do without the minutiae involved in planning three different people’s schedules.

My stories are what truly keep me going day to day. Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be my best days of the week, because I post new chapters on Wednesdays, and the feedback always gives me a jolt. I’m no longer so insecure that no feedback will make me drop a story mid-stream, but I fully admit seeing a new comment appear in my email inbox gives me a short adrenaline rush. Of course, that doesn’t last, but I go back every day or so to re-read some of the more thoughtful comments and questions to restore my confidence.

The other day, on my commute to work, I passed the painting above. It was just sitting there, alone, on the sidewalk by the station. No name on it, and nobody around. I knew it probably wouldn’t be there on my return walk, so I snapped a photo of it. I’m glad I did. That painting reminds me there are other people out there struggling, many in much greater ways than I am, but some in ways very similar to me. It also reminds me that there are really only four things in any person’s existence that truly matter: learning, laughing, loving, and living. We can all do those, no matter where we are in our lives, our careers, or our relationships.

I’ll keep working, naturally. I’ll keep spending time with my family. And, of course, I’ll keep writing. But when the ups and downs of my rollercoaster days start to wear me down, I’ll do my best to remember what I learned from seeing this painting on the street. Will you do, too?