I went in search of one of my many journals…the current one I turn to when I feel philosophical…and discovered the box of all my journals going back to early teenage years. I stood in the garage, freezing, pulling one out after another, flipping through the pages of evolving penmanship and maturity. My words, poems, and other people’s words jotted inside, reminded me of good and bad times, but mostly they made me realize that I’ve been battling the same issues, making the same lists, not finishing the same things for years. I put all the journals back in the box and made the decision that I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit down at yet another journal page and pour out the same feelings. Instead, I’d come sit and write this post. I can hear some of your thoughts. “How is that really any different?” It just is, somehow. For one thing, I won’t find this post in a box in the garage ten years from now, and that’s a start!
I’m turning 39 in a few weeks. That’s not old. But it’s not a “young…the world is your oyster” age either. And every birthday, every anniversary date, every milestone, makes one reflect on both accomplishments and dreams unrealized. At 38-going-on-39 I’m realizing the following…
…Perhaps everything I’ve tried in the past…all those lists in all those journals…didn’t work for a reason. Perhaps I’ve been going about things all wrong. The problem is, that’s the only way I know. And it worked for some things…some of the things I’m most proud…triathlons, degrees, publications. Or, at least, I think it worked. I’m not sure anymore. Perhaps if I dig deeper I’ll find that those triumphs came because of something else…single-mindedness, fear, disregard for relationships and other obligations.
…And I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter what the physical world around me looks like…the house I live in, the body I live in, even the city I live in…that peace and happiness will have to come from within first. My tendency has been to believe in the reverse, to hope that by putting the physical world around me in order, I would achieve peace and happiness. Sometimes it works, but when you have little control over the outside world, nor the motivation to try to conquer it, the only thing left is to turn inward. And it makes sense in a way. If the soul is calm and happy, then it can better attend to the outside world.
…And I think too much and do too little. I can hear my supporters. “You’re always doing something.” “You work hard.” But the truth is I do a lot of spinning my wheels and overthinking when it comes to the things that matter…to the point of paralysis.
And how does this all relate to being a writer? When you are something…in your heart, whether successful at it or not…everything affects that something. The lists, the battle between within and without, the overthinking. It all affects my writing because it affects me. And it’s better I try to sort this out at 38-going-on-39 instead of many years on.
Now, friends and family, there’s no need for concerned calls. I really am okay. This is all good stuff to be contemplating…so long as I don’t think too long on it. So, in true escapist fashion, I’m going to make a bunch of tea and buttered toast, cover myself in my Union Jack throw, and watch all of Lost in Austen.