A Really Big Stick

“Don’t ever mistake my silence for ignorance, my calmness for acceptance, or my kindness for weakness.”  ~Anon

Life isn’t fair. You probably already know this. People will do and say things to you that you don’t deserve. At least once in your life, you will be misjudged and kept from the opportunity to defend yourself against harsh untruths. As writers, as human beings, we have no choice but to accept this. How you choose to do so will determine the outcome of any number of situations you’ll encounter in your life and it will say more than a little about your character. The question isn’t ‘What can I endure?’ because … we will always endure. So long as there is breath still in our lungs, we are enduring. The question, is ‘How can I endure better?’

Attitude is everything. This you know as well. But, how often do you really apply that knowledge to your daily life? To your writing? A great many failures were people who were mere moments away from success when they gave up. So what if you just got back your 47th rejection letter? What if the 48th reply contains the ‘yes’ you’ve been looking for all along? Knowing that in advance, would you get that far only to toss in the towel? Of course not. Problem is … we don’t know for sure, so we must assume, always, that success is achievable. We must always believe that if we are doing the right thing, the very best that we are capable of, that we will accomplish what we most desire.

Truth is … hardship never ends. It takes on different forms, but some years will simply be tougher than others. Shit happens, as the saying goes. Do you stop living? Do you sink into a depression? You could. I could have. But, you know what? I haven’t come this far just to quit now. Life is still unfair. It never stopped being what it is. As soon as I think I’ve gotten a reprieve, a moment to take a breath, I feel another blow. Know what else though? Blessings come in bizarre packages sometimes. And all we can do is our damnedest to seek out the positive in every situation, however unfair, however untrue to the goodness that we’ve sent out into the universe, however undeserving we are of the circumstances we’re currently in. Because the reality is, if we change how we see our circumstances, then the circumstances will change.

No, I didn’t start working for Hallmark. I’m just tasting the dust in my mouth from having fallen enough times to know how to get up again … to know that the ‘getting up’ will never really end. It may get easier at times. But it will never truly end, and the fire fueling greatness doesn’t come from waiting idly by while others blaze trails all around me. Know who you are … know where you stand … that way, when others question you, in whatever form they do so, the only response necessary will be to exist. Let your life, in and of itself, be the answer they’re looking for.

Live in such a way that even your silence leaves an echo.

Dare to be your best. Dare to do whatever you do, with skills you can’t even imagine having. Breathe like you know how to hold your breath forever. Walk like you’re an olympic runner. Speak as if your words will be the last they ever hear, and be kind accordingly. Listen as if what you’re hearing is the most important thing you’ll ever hear. Hug like it’s a final goodbye. Love others like they’ve never known love before. Forgive them as if it’s your last day on earth. Give without remembering and take without forgetting. Feel gratitude for even the slightest of things. Dream like the world is limitless.

Because it is …

Your dreams won’t come true overnight. They manifest through small changes that all add up to becoming greater than yourself. Dare to see the world as it really is … wide open. We too often place limitations on ourselves because if we allow the oh-so-small thought, ‘What if I could …’ to take hold, then we’re responsible for our own failures and successes, and it’s far easier to leave it up to fate, or the actions of others.

Oh … I believe in fate. I believe in karma. They’re in my employment, and I assure you they’ll have an end of the year bonus after all the overtime they’re putting in. But, for now, there are no limitations and I won’t, for another moment, sit back and wait on others to make this life any easier. It’s already in my ballpark. And if all else fails … you can always fall back on the West African proverb that Teddy Roosevelt loved to quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

Is this soft enough?

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I Dare You

“When love first happens, the individuals are giving each other energy unconsciously and both people feel buoyant and elated. That’s the incredible high we call being ‘in love.’ Unfortunately, once they expect this feeling to come from another person, they cut themselves off from the energy in the universe and begin to rely even more on the energy from each other–only now there doesn’t seem to be enough and so they stop giving each other energy and fall back into their dramas in an attempt to control each other and force the other’s energy their way.”  ― James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Being an author isn’t about obtaining a certificate,  reaching a certain status, or achieving a coveted literary/genre award. Some will tell you that it is. I will tell you otherwise. I will also tell you, not only why it isn’t so, but why it is of utmost importance that you don’t think of yourself or your calling in this way.

First of all, the grass is always always always greener. It’s easier than a two dollar whore to fall into the mindset of, ‘When I am published I’ll be happy … when that critic in my online group finally gives me his or her approval, I’ll be happy … when I finish THIS novel in particular, this project in particular, I’ll be happy.’ But, being a creative individual and an author doesn’t work that way. We aren’t static individuals with a linear path. Our existence is all over the map. We wander, we peruse, we journey. What we don’t do … ever … is sit still. We are forged of only the strongest kind of energy, that borne of sweat, blood, tears, body, soul and sorrow. This creative energy can, and needs to be harnessed or else it can either drive you mad, sap your somatic energy, or block your daily functional flow. Sound like yah-yah kind of nonsense to you? Give me a second and let’s see if I can’t clarify this a little more.

Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘If I don’t write, right-damn-now, I’ll explode’? I have. Loved ones have expressed similar thoughts. That’s the build-up of your creative energy. Most people will see that feeling as merely the byproduct of needing to find an outlet through which to express the tension.

I propose a slightly different view on the matter … (shocker, huh?)

What if this energy doesn’t build so much like water building pressure behind a damn, but flows like a river? Yes, writer’s block could be explained as the damn and would therefore cause the tension, right? Too easy … way too damn easy. I see it like this—most damns are not natural, they are man-made. As holistic authors, we’re not the structured type. We see our world as one fluid, cohesive plane of existence. So, why would this energy be any different? In other words, you’re not channeling energy like one would try to force water to go a certain way with a damn. We are building our creative lives around the water source and reveling in its existence every hour of every day, whether we are actively wading in it or not.

Why is this slight distinction important? Isn’t energy just energy?

No. Not at all. The difference is labor and the wasting of precious moments spent trying to steer something powerful enough to steer itself. When we first realize, or come to find, that we are authors … that we can craft worlds from the use of language … we feed off of that natural energy much like two lovers feed off each other’s energy. After awhile, we become accustomed to that energy and we rely on it alone to feed us. Eventually, if we aren’t careful, we’ll come to ‘fall out of love’ because of how little energy our simply ‘being an author’ now gives us on a daily basis and, though we don’t so much as give credence to the thought, we come to resent it somewhat. It is a ‘need’ that builds like water behind a damn, and unless handled, will tear us apart from the inside out.

That’s when the manipulation begins. We set ourselves up for failure by leveling goals at our creative selves, under the guise of aspirations, and somehow along the line we forget why we fell in love with writing in the first place. It becomes less about the story, and more about the act of writing itself. It’s not the life that the water brings, but the frequency of flow, the perceived quality of the water, the efficacy of its mineral content.

In other words, relax. The water will flow. Allow it to do so naturally, and you’ll find a rhythm that follows you throughout your days and nights, no matter how many different hats you wear, no matter how many worlds you step in and out of on a daily basis. How does one go about accomplishing this? Depends on your river. It can also be compared to prayer. The mindset differences there are either setting aside only specific times to be with the divine (whatever that may be for you, or whomever that may be), or being in constant commune with the spiritual no matter what you are physically doing.

You’re writing, even when you’re doing the dishes. You’re writing, even when you can’t write a damn thing and are moping about the house. You’re writing at that big marketing meeting that you’ve been dreading for weeks. Don’t think so? Haven’t you ever heard a name out of the blue, and thought, ‘Perfect name for a novel.’? And that’s just one ridiculously small example. Open your mind up to the possibility of always being “one” with your inner author, and you may find that pressure lessening, and your productivity at an all-time high. Don’t let that scare you. You aren’t letting go of writing. You aren’t accepting any less energy from writing, or falling out of love with it. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You’re freeing yourself to truly love who you are as an author, and the works you create, because none of it is forced or fabricated. It becomes, at that point, truly and utterly authentic.

And isn’t that the whole point of being a holistic author? To just … be?

I might have lost a few of you on this one, and I gather there will be a handful more who flat-out disagree with me. This is merely my input on it, and how I teach others to channel their creative flow. You don’t have to take my word on. But, before you go disagreeing with me, I challenge you to put into place this new mindset for just one week. See where it takes you. If going with the natural rhythm of things messes with your productivity, then perhaps this post wasn’t meant for you.

I’m betting though that you’ll find yourself quite surprised at how relaxed you feel … how easy the words will come once you’ve opened the floodgates and invited that energy to do as it pleases.

Go on … open those gates and stop fretting so much over the specificity of it all … I dare you …