Um, people? It’s been years since I wrote anything here! Could I have forgotten that I started (several) blogs about this f*&^%! topic of Joy and Enjoyment, and could I have been more surprised when I stumbled upon my own blog today, read all the entries and liked them? Nothing cringe-worthy here, folks. Just essays. But this is embarrassing: I found it in a Google search. I found a link to this blog on my profile page on the Helium.com website. (Check it out. I started several years ago writing “articles” on Helium to get my feet wet in the freelance market, enjoyed some of it, then, um, forgot? About it?) So, yeah. My own blog isn’t search engine optimized for finding me. That right there says something, doesn’t it?
But find myself, I did! In the midst of the laziest day ever, I’m onto something so close to the skin, so true, so soul, that I just can’t stop. I’m obsessed, yes, and intrigued. I discovered my own writing, and it inspired me! Could it be I needed the distance of several years to come back around to valuing what I’d crafted and taking my own ideas seriously?
What I learned in school today is it’s easy to take things for granted and not appreciate what they really are. Given that I write everyday and have for a small forever, and given that I pretty much have to or I’ll go mad, it’s been my default to see my writing as a perpetual work in progress, just part of my quirky little unalterable self care routine; an exercise, not a skill. Sure, I’ve wanted to “be a writer,” earn my living that way, write essays, books, and poems, but I’ve never really seen myself as capable or ambitious enough to achieve that. For the longest time I believed I had nothing to say.
And now? I don’t know. I don’t know until I start. I may think I know, but I may be led somewhere new and scary. I may have that to say, and so much more. It may take on a life of its own and be much, much bigger than I thought. I may have to ride that essay till I’m sore and hungry. It may turn out to be a book. Two books. A series. A play!
It may fizzle. And honestly, I don’t know which scares me more. Well, I do know. But I’m choosing to save that for another essay.
See, here’s what started this whole damn writing, google-searching, tap-tap-tap obsession thing today: I signed up for eLance, another freelance site, and I voraciously browsed the writing gigs, and I submitted a proposal for one in the only way I knew how. I extemporaneously wrote the bare bones of what the potential client wanted (a 30 day self esteem action plan/encouragement blog for women), using the tone and concepts I would use if I were to write it. In about an hour, I’d written 30 days’ worth of self help stuff. I wondered why on earth I wouldn’t just write it for me, for you, for my readers, instead of getting paid less than I’m worth just to get my feet wet with freelancing, to have it published under someone else’s name! I’m not really that hot to freelance (“Pay is small, but potential exists for LOTS more assignments!”) Day 1, “Do your own writing, and let everybody else do theirs.”
I have to write. I just do. Put me in a room and I will find a pencil and blank paper, a keyboard and an outlet, a tablet and a fingertip, and I will write. Failing the proper implements, I will jibber-jabber out loud to myself, making words and ideas collide until they mean something, or sound great, or delight me, or teach me something, or some other wonderful, perplexing, mysterious outcome, like music! I will put things into words. Or, put words onto things. I will set the thing to music. I will sing, recite it, and jam on it. I will improv over it, and I will yearn for one other person to jam with me.
That’s magic. I can’t be blase about words, wording, verbiage, verbal-ness, writing, expressing, and saying. Rhythm, rhyme, the natural music of language, tone, melody, meaning, nuance, consonance, assonance: these are addicting, trance-inducing, beautiful. Forget the thumb! It’s language that makes us. When I’m writing, I don’t feel; I flow. I’m happy and thoughtless and eternal when I’m letting words out. Nothing could stop me. Not losing the use of my hands, my arms, my mouth. Still, the incessant stream would be flowing.
Well, ok, one thing would stop me, for a while, and has, and does, repeatedly: Stopping. Stopping for any reason: Forgetting. Getting busy. Getting side-tracked by committing to silly, good things. Deciding my writing is stupid and worthless. Getting afraid to have people read it. Thinking too far ahead. Encountering an obstacle. Getting really excited and trying to tamp that down. Just stopping.
I was tempted to call it laziness. But somewhere near the intersection of “I don’t have to,” “I don’t want to,” “I don’t know how to,” and “oh, what’s the point?” following Lazy around like a shadow is Avoidance. And the result is a humbling, mind-numbing, completely successful self-sabotage that I am so comfortable with that I don’t even see it, till I meet myself one day on the internet and like what I find and wonder how I ever let that become less magical than how I feel about writing today.
It’s funny, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, we never thought about exciting and inspiring. You were either lazy or hardworking, foolish or thrifty. I didn’t learn much about simple enjoyment. I certainly was absent the day they handed out the self-possession, self-confidence, and worthiness papers. I’ve had to teach myself about enjoyment from scratch, from the simplest things, like favorite colors and stuff I loved as a kid that I didn’t need or have words for at the time. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the path my life took. A series of uninformed choices and the right circumstances launched me in the direction of emotional instability and personal chaos, so that is where I started from in this quest.
I am opening to a new level of joy, I guess. I’ve got the basics down, likes and dislikes, faves and raves, pet peeves, and a certain measure of self respect that smooths out the rough places where I still have to improvise when I’m “out there” in the world. I walk around most of the time with an open and engaged heart, actively appreciating my life and blessings. But I am aware that there’s much more available, that I can dream bigger, and that some of my choices still tend toward self-limitation, the small, safe, same ways I have become familiar with. A favorite Neale Donald Walsch quote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” helps me navigate this new place by encouraging me to examine whether my comfort zone is providing me with a secure center or a gentle prison. Case in point: self-sabotage is comfortable, so far.
Another quote from Neale Donald Walsch, posted today on his Facebook page: “Our prayer is not a request. It is an acknowledgement. It is not a plea; it is a word of gratitude. It is an awareness that that which we seek to experience is already on its way to us, or currently in hand, and we simply don’t know it.”
Could this not be a way of saying, and I say this lovingly, that what I’ve been whining about wanting all my life I already have but am too busy whining and wanting, to get it? Or, when in doubt, write. When not in doubt, write. Each and every day, write, and every other day, finish something.
They’re shooting at something in the yard back behind the house across the street. I hate the noise, hate the whole gun thing, but I understand how good it must feel to grab something tight, squeeze hard, feel all your forearm muscles tighten, then BAM! BAM! BAM! Got it. If I could shoot this writing thing, this pursuit of happiness, just to nail it, and once and for all have something I did with my own hands put food on the table, I would. But I suspect, and this is based on history, folks, that first I must be able to have the joy and satisfaction, the work and the triumph, the failure, the obstacles, and th
e successes of my writing reach my own heart, so that I can own it, enjoy it, and live it, as I believe I was meant to do.