by Nancy Casey
We all use to be different. We use to be less than two feet tall. We use to be unaware that 1 + 1 = 2. We use to have friends, habits or interests different than the ones we have now. Today in your writing, you will focus on some of the details of the way you use to be.
Think about this as you set up a page with a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob to set aside some space for illustration.
Because every life is characterized by change, there is much to say about the way you use to be. In some cases things get better, in others they get worse, but over and over again, things get different.
Consider your habits—eating, drinking, and amusements. Did your day always begin—or end—the way it does now? Is there someone you use to always talk to who is no longer in your life, or who has left the world? Did you use to read, exercise, or look at a screen more or less than you do now?
Many particulars slide out of our lives as we mature. What did you use to do when you were little that would be odd if you did it now? How did you use to think the world worked? What expectations did you use to have for your life?
Have you always lived where you live now? Dress the way you dress today? Listen to the same music you listened to a year (or a decade) ago? Consider the ways your body has changed over time. Consider your health, your attitude, and the activities you turn to when you are bored.
Begin writing with the phrase, “I use to…” and write whatever comes into your mind next. Describe what you use to do, but leave out the parts about why you use to do it or why you don’t do it anymore.. Focus your concentration on the way you use to be without judging or explaining.
After you have described one thing that you use to do, repeat the words “I use to…” and describe some other quality or activity that has melted out of your life.
Fill the page that way, and when you have finished, you will have made a mosaic of details drawn from your past. Maybe you will be surprised or impressed by the ways that describing how you use to be can also describe the way you are.
At any point in your writing, you can pause to add illustrations or doodling to give you time to think.
When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.
Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.
Here is an example of what someone could write.
You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.
Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes in the neighborhood, they will return.