By: Jamie Lynn Ryan
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
~ Maya Angelou
We all have a path, a journey we take through life. Some are relatively direct, with few bumps and curves along the way; others prove far more winding and full of detours. In the end, though, I believe we all reach the destination we are meant to. Eventually.
Last week, I touched on some of the ways I go about my craft, and how my writing has evolved through the years. In speaking to the next generation of potential journalists, the best experience I can draw upon is my own. There was a time when I was in their shoes, sitting in high school classrooms and then college lecture halls, wondering where exactly this path I had chosen would lead. It was during those formative years that I looked to my own sources of inspiration in the writing field for guidance, absorbing their styles and studying their techniques for some hint of how I could apply these skills to my own drafts and create a unique voice.
Just today, in fact, I found myself perusing the archives of past “In Step” columns, searching for a tribute I had written following the passing of Ed Lowe, master storyteller, and one mentor I had the extreme good fortune to work with during my time here at South Bay. Seldom do we have the opportunity to meet our idols, let alone share in our mutual love of a particular craft. No matter the difference in age, or how vast the generational gap, there is simply no substitute for the wisdom of someone who has experienced those things you only dare to dream.
If you had asked me back in my formative years where I saw myself in ten, fifteen years time, I probably would have shrugged and said, “Hopefully reporting from the clubhouse of the New York Yankees” or “traveling across the country ala Almost Famous, searching for the next big story to be featured in Rolling Stone Magazine.” Realistic? Perhaps not entirely. But these were the people, and the positions, I admired from afar and wished to emulate. Maybe it was the sense of prestige I found attractive, the celebrity aspect.
Fast forward into the real world of adulthood, and it wasn’t long before I discovered that, if you truly have a love for writing – or any particular skill – it truly doesn’t matter where you do it, what the topics entail or how much notoriety you gain in the process. The fact is, you can make a significant difference on any level, even within the confines of the local community you grew up in, surrounded by the family, friends and local followers you may be fortunate to gain along the way. And that is exactly what has happened, from this desk in Farmingdale, as I put fingertips to keyboard each week, drawing from my own life experiences and those who have inspired me.
The path may not always be clear, but the passion has never wavered. That, above all else, is what makes the journey worthwhile.