The Best Possible Version Of Myself


It defines our relationships, underscores our passion, and provides us meaningful inspiration as we stumble down our life’s path. Without love, we are nothing. With it, we have reason to wake up each morning. We work for love. We suffer for love. We hurt for love.

Love is what makes us whole. It turns us into the best possible versions of ourselves, as Steve Carell — yes, that Steve Carell — was once quoted as saying in the movie Dan In Real Life. Regardless of your opinion on this understated tribute to American cinema, love does exactly as Carell’s title character describes. It shapes us in a way that nothing else can. It brings out our greatest qualities, then showcases them to the world. As a result, our audience sees us for who we truly are, beneath any facades we may have in place to shield our hearts from overexposure. That vulnerability, that faith we have in love to protect us when we bear our souls to the universe, is what takes us from ordinary to extraordinary. It is then that we are at our very best.

We all love different things, in different ways. We love people and places, material items and moments in time. We love physically and emotionally. We show our love through all types of mediums — with words, glances, hugs, actions, and sacrifices, to name a few. But regardless of who or what or how we love, the why is simple. We love because we believe that when we love, we are better people for it, to the point of being at our best. And at the same time, we love because we enjoy being loved in return.

With all that said, I love to write.

I know. Very anti-climactic. This is not a person we’re talking about. It is not the love of my life, my future wife, or even so much as a cherished pet. It is a verb. To write. An action. On top of that, writing in and of itself cannot love me in return, which as I’ve just stated is one of the main reasons why we love in the first place.

So why writing then? Why this love for something so menial?

Far be it for me to leave you hanging without so much as an explanation. If nothing else, you deserve that much for diving this far into a second-hand adaptation of The Notebook. On a sports-themed website, no less.

You see, writing is something that has brought me great joy since I was a child. When I was younger, I wrote poetry and stories for fun. I learned how to read before I began preschool, and once I mastered that, writing wasn’t far behind.

I didn’t just write, either. I entertained myself during nap time by drawing up adventure novels in my head, playing out scenarios in which superheroes chased bad guys and put an end to evil, all while I was supposed to be sleeping. This was when I was five or six years old.

As I got a little bit older, I penned fiction and non-fiction, dedicating pages upon pages of spiral-bound notebooks and colorful printer paper to stories that entertained no one but myself. I wrote for the sanctity of writing. The reward was that I had a printed transcript of my own creation. There was little more than that. It was all I needed.

Somewhere around the age 11 or 12, I stopped writing. We all reach a point in our lives where we’re too cool to do the things we did as kids. So I quit. I moved onto other interests and left my love behind. I forgot what it felt like to be in that moment, when your thoughts just flow through ink or onto a keyboard, when you don’t think so much as act on impulse, when natural ability takes over and steers your hands to take your emotions and turn them into something more, something concrete.

What’s worse, I didn’t think I missed writing, either. I was more concerned with other things: sports and music and movies and the opposite sex. The type of things you could feel okay about posting on your AOL Instant Messenger profile. Normal things. Easy things. Average things.

By the time I was a senior in high school, writing was completely irrelevant to me. Outside of book reports and five-page essays, I flat-out did not write. I never expected to be reminded of the passion I once had for writing. But then a teacher, of all people, changed that.

There’s a scene in the movie Hook (and yes, I realize I’m sending myself up the river with all these references to TBS-caliber movies) where a grown-up Peter Pan returns to Neverland and has an epiphany one day. For those who haven’t seen the film, allow me to briefly summarize.

Having aged and repressed all accounts of his childhood days as the one-time boy hero, Pan seemingly cannot recall how to fly the way he used to. As a result, he cannot fight the evil Captain Hook and rescue his children, who Hook has kidnapped.

But then, out of nowhere, Pan locates his mischievous shadow and learns how to go airborne once again, at which point all of his youthful memories come flooding back to him en masse. After years and years of neglecting his true passion, Pan simply remembers. The plot shifts. Pan battles Hook, Pan defeats Hook, Pan saves the day, and Pan becomes the best possible version of himself by story’s end.

I liken the script in this movie to what happened to me when I was 18 years old. I had first period social studies with Mr. Sherbrooke. We were tasked with doing a one-page write-up each week on a newsworthy current event. We could write about whatever we wanted, however we wanted, so long as we attached the article, met the one-page requirement, and did a fair enough job analyzing the report. It was a simple assignment. A gimme, if you will.

I remember starting the year off writing my first couple article summaries in boring fashion. Standard fare. This happened, then this happened, here’s the aftermath, and this is what I think about the whole thing. Your typical high school essay, more or less. But at some point, that wasn’t good enough. I got bored. So I started infusing corny anecdotes into my weekly write-ups. I took stories on technological advances in Asia and manipulated them to include one-liners about goofy television shows I used to watch as a kid. I twisted the words in a critique on the economy to allow for discussions on Michael Jackson. I wasn’t content with the easy A’s I had been piling up. So I took a risk. It paid off.

Mr. Sherbrooke enjoyed the change of pace. He wrote messages of inspiration in red ink on my assignments, telling me to keep writing, to keep evolving, to keep being different. He motivated and encouraged me in a way that no one else had before. He made me believe in my words. He got me to cherish writing again. And it was then that I had my epiphany. Writing was my love. It was enjoyable to me. It was something I had always been fond of, even when I didn’t know it. I needed to write like I needed to breathe. It didn’t matter if anyone read the words. The words were for me. I had always known that, and I knew it once again.

So I wrote. About anything and everything. Mostly about sports. Because sports, like writing, fueled me. I became fond of jotting down all my thoughts on sports in documents that were shown to no one. On occasion, I’d turn one of these documents into a letter, which I would send to the editor of any newspaper or magazine that happened to be commenting on the subject. I became published. Every single letter to the editor that I ever wrote appeared in print. I was flattered, honored. I kept writing.

In college, I wrote for an underground newspaper dubbed The Weekly Enema. Based on the title alone, it was the type of thing you’d expect to become popular among 18-to-22-year-olds. A satirical view on anything that happened to be going on in the world. It was hugely successful, but lasted just one year. The abrupt disappearance of the student-run tabloid only added to its mystique. We went out. But we went out on top.

I started writing books, which I never finished. I must have started at least 15 or 20 different books, on topics ranging from how not to go through college, to my experiences working in the retail industry, to the year 1995.

And then I got the idea to write this. This website. Not just for the heck of writing, but because enough people had finally convinced me to write openly for others. But secretly, it was always for me.  Just like this article is for me. Because if you can’t do something for the pure enjoyment of doing it, then why do anything at all?

I never ever thought I’d be in this position. Where I can write something and know that people will read it. It’s humbling to know that there are individuals out there who care that deeply about the thing you love so much. Who want to share in your enjoyment of what it is that you do. It’s a very different, very inexplicable feeling. I wish I knew a better way to convey it, but unfortunately I don’t.

We often lose sight of the fact that the things we love are the things that put us in the very brightest light. We get so lost in the shuffle, doing things because we have to do them, or because we have ulterior motives, that we just tend to forget about our loves in life. Whether those loves are things, or actions, or people.

I frequently glorify my immediate reactions to certain occurrences on these pages. I morph instant emotion into four or five paragraphs of deliberate bravado. It’s showmanship at its finest. Spin, if you will. And it works. And yes, it’s really what I believe, even if it is microcosmic in its relationship to what really matters in life.

But rarely do I, or anyone else for that matter, ever tell you to find what you love in life and capitalize on it. Make it your platform. Detail your very existence around it. You cannot be at your apex until you know what it is that you truly enjoy. Once you figure that out, you can do anything. Absolutely anything.

And in the end, in spite of everything else you might encounter down this path towards mortality — in spite of finances or possessions or anything else that might trip you up from time to time — you will become nothing if not the best possible version of yourself.

This is why I write.

4 thoughts on “The Best Possible Version Of Myself”

  1. awesome piece, i feel exactly the same way… writing is the best form of communication and thought. love it.

  2. This is awesome Alex. I’m 18 and still have yet to find that elusive passion. Love the site, you da man!

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