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Alley art on my block.

As the rush to the year’s end commences, I tend to get reflective. I look back on all that I’ve accomplished and, more so, on what I have not. There’s a third novel with only four chapters done. A passport that remains expired. Yoga mat now collecting dust and running shoes that wouldn’t mind going for a walk.

But there was a second novel released at the start of the year. A new venture that’s beginning to blossom. Opportunities that have connected me with readers and other authors. Friendships have grown and I have evolved. Somehow, it’s easier to focus on what wasn’t achieved, no matter the number of one’s successes.

The greatest challenge for me is to be in the absolute moment. It’s nearly impossible. There’s always somewhere else I need to be. Whether it’s rushing off to a day job, getting chores done, honoring appointments, meeting up with friends, connecting with connections, or scenes/characters/dialogue impatiently clamoring to be written, there’s not a free minute to be in the moment.

While I’m currently failing at another NaNoWriMo (it’s hard to write when your allergies have you busy blowing for the first 13 days), I’m learning to take a solid pause. When you can’t do what you want/should/need to be doing, the only choice is to sit still. There’s no other place for me to be but here. And, when I finally surrendered to it, I realized that’s not such a bad place to be.

However, when you want to be someplace else — successful in your desired career, living in your dream home, luxuriating on a tropical island, collecting that lottery money — it’s difficult to enjoy where you’re at, that here, this moment. That’s what usually gets in the way and takes away from enjoying what we’ve already got.

We’re told we need to be hyper-focused on the goal in order to achieve it. Any faltering in that allows failure an opportunity to creep in. Keeping a keen eye on the prize is necessary to a degree; but, if that were indeed the magical method (“The Secret, if you will), don’t you think we’d see a lot more people living their dream life? Hard work, focus and determination are necessary ingredients for success, but they can also wear you down and burn you out.

The truth is that luck, timing and perseverance are also factors in success, and only one of those do we really have control over. One achievement worth striving for is actually loving what you do. Right here, right now. Yes, I know that’s trite and, God forbid, we settle for anything less than the goal of massive success/world domination. But, if this were it, if this was all you were ever going to achieve, could you be happy here? That’s not an easy question to answer. There are likely lots of compromises made, figuring they would be temporary yet they have somehow stuck around. But, as a writer or artist, if you don’t love what you are doing, right here and now, insanity is around the corner. Falling in love with the process itself is the first brick in the foundation of success because there is much more “failure” and rejection involved in being a creative soul than there are accolades (or money).

As these allergies persist (despite superhuman attempts to quell them), I’m letting the novel stall 17,000 words in. I’m not giving up or setting it aside; I’m simply giving it room to breathe. I’m giving myself the same. For the rest of the year, I’m going to slow down, not push, not rush, and put the hustle on hold. I’ll be here, in the now, embracing the moment. Things will still get done; there’s a lot on my calendar and much prep to be done for next year (both for the L.A.L.A. Society and the launch of Emotional Intelligence at the Ventura County Line…when it’s done). But I’m (finally) learning I can’t put my cart too far ahead of that nag. I’ll be taking my time with what’s in front of me, not in a hurry to get to the next. That won’t be easy; I’m an Aries, A-type personality. But, sometimes, when you quit pushing, you fall into the flow. Sometimes, when you come to a stop, you’ll know exactly where to go.

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