How Do We Know When It's Our Time to Shine?

Vincent Van Patten

I’ve always been one who would rather sit back and subtly observe than fight for my time to shine. I feel the times are changing.

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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I feel drawn to observing the patterns of nature because all I have to do is watch.

Something extraordinary is taking place when the world churns and breathes, something archaic and unexplainable.

The action can be expressed, but the emotion nature evokes is sometimes impossible to put into words.

There’s a beauty in that inability to capture the human feeling. That’s the thing about art; it’s the human’s attempt at portraying something we all experience yet find it hard to say.

Where words won’t do, perhaps a color, or a line, or a photograph, or a chord, will.

The viewer may interpret what’s being said for themself; a novel thought arises. Art, like nature, transcends mere communication because it speaks directly to the heart.

The waves crash, the sun rises, the snow falls, the trees sway; I watch life unfold and feel a change on the inside. Watching nature brings me peace.

I let go of my sense of self that worries about what others will think and in doing so, connect with who I truly am.

Then I want to write because it makes me feel alive.

I want to capture the love I feel for the world as best as I can and that’s a daily endeavor that’s worth pursuing.

I’ve always been one who would rather sit back and subtly observe than fight for my time to shine.

I also realize how this has changed since I’ve gotten older, but in a way that feels natural to me and aligns with the person I’ve always been.

I don’t really care who wins the game. I just want to play.

This personality trait was most apparent when I was young.

As a younger brother in a big family flush with outgoing personalities, I’d find myself either hovering around my parents at family gatherings or off to the side as the festivities wore on.

This brought me comfort. I always looked up to my older cousins, my uncles and aunts, my grandparents.

I don’t know how I got thrown into such an incredible group of people.

But as I grew up and began to develop interests and a distinguishable personality of my own, I would still keep my thoughts to myself unless pressed.

Why is that? I didn’t feel the need to compare.

I know I want to express who I am and always have, but I never felt a real need.

I think my family just wanted to learn more about me. I love them for that.

Before developing opinions that I care deeply about or even feeling fully like me, not speaking up may have been portrayed as a sign that I had nothing worth saying.

When it came time to say something, I felt the pressure that it better be worthwhile. So I kept quiet.

They just wanted me to talk, to have a laugh together, to learn. Maybe I didn’t see that at the time.

I’ve discovered more about myself in the last couple of years than ever before.

I know this is by opening up through writing. I began writing when I didn’t see a clear path forward, not another step.

The more I wrote, the more I cultivated what truly lights me up; I always had these loves and passions brewing in my heart and soul, but I didn’t quite know how to express, or perhaps to clarify them for myself.

These are a love for reading and adventure, an affection for people and all that makes us individual, yet human: cultures, travel, finding the essence.

I treasure what makes this world enriching — our similarities as human beings, but more so, our differences as individuals.

Often there are no answers to why we are the way we are.

I’ve asked. I’ve questioned the universe about the unexplainable circumstances of life. We continue to persevere in our own ways, irrespective of the challenges we endure.

This is what it means to be alive.

As a kid I’d feel content off to the side watching the party, listening to the conversation, developing my thoughts and opinions, yet seldom conveying them.

And that made me happy. But I noticed the ways people interacted with one another and I took note of the joy and the excitement or the hurt, and I wondered about it.

I wondered why we feel the way we do and why we act the way we act.

What goes into making us all that we are. And that’s what inspires me now more than ever, our interactions and connections as human beings.

Those days of being a kid and patiently observing brought me to where I am today. Because now, I feel that I have something worth saying.

I’m confident in what I love and where my passions lay.

I return to nature as my unyielding source of inspiration because there’s no rhyme or reason; there’s just being.

Sometimes it’s difficult to come to grips with the fact that this is who I am.

We change every day and when we’re something we weren’t before, we question who we are. We may just be afraid because people won’t recognize us anymore.

We’ve lost our illusory grip of control.

When I wonder about what it means to be a human and what role I may play in this world, I return to the sounds of the natural world.

The sounds of rain falling through the trees are a sort of meditation. Nature won’t ask me for anything, not to step up or be something or lead.

It provides an answer in a simple way.

When I hear the continuous, lulling movements, I remember that it’s okay just to listen if that’s all I want to do.

And when I’m ready to take a stand and let my spirit shine, I will. And I don’t know when that will be. I don’t know if it’s now.

There’s nothing to force; there’s nobody to impress, there’s nothing we have to be. I’m me, the same person I’ve always been.

As life continues and I find my place in this world, that person will step up confidently and strong when the time comes.

That person will stand up with the same sincere energy as the falling rain and let his voice be heard. I think we’ll know when we’re meant to break free.

The white noise will fade away.

All we’ll hear is our beating heart and we’ll feel nothing but love.

And then we’ll know we’re alive in this body and this soul, we won’t be our past nor waiting for the future, and nothing will be the same.

Maybe that day is today.

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My name is Vincent Van Patten. This is my home, a place to share who I am and what lights my soul on fire. I’m a writer, media creator, and co-host of The Dare to Dream Podcast. Most importantly, I’m an inspired citizen of our ever-changing world. I strive to learn all that I can about how we’ve progressed to where we are today as individual cultures and as a planet. It’s my passion to fill every day with exploration and creativity no matter where I am, whether in California crafting my latest project or on my way to discover someplace new. By writing about my experiences, connecting with people and the earth, and remaining present, I always feel at home. I write to express my perspective of daily living, from the thoughts in my head to the relationships we share as human beings. I write about travel, culture, books, life, philosophy, spirituality, health, self-improvement, and history. I also write poetry and short stories  —  doing so soothes the soul. I believe we’re here to challenge ourselves by questioning all we think we know. When we do, we open our minds to a way of living we could never have imagined. This life is a journey with no finish line in sight. I hope to leave a positive impact with every step I take.

Del Mar, CA
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