Last December (2012), I read this article Six Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. I will be honest–it was a harsh read. I was pretty fucking annoyed in parts of it, because I felt like the guy was being an asshole. Then, I turned down my emotional meter and I actually read what he was saying. I looked at myself and all those things I dreamed of doing as a child. I thought about how I had always said: I wanted to travel the world; I wanted to take photos; I wanted to write a book; I wanted to have a family; I wanted to do something that mattered and I wanted to leave my mark on the world. Some I have done, but I still have yet to write a book and leave my mark.
I don’t think it is egotistical in the least to want to leave a mark on the world. But, I was failing miserably at it, because like the article said, I wasn’t DOING anything. I was just sitting and dreaming about things I wanted to do and I never took the steps to accomplish them. I always had excuses. Excuses. What an awful word and I was full of them. Here are just a few: I was too sick. It will never happen, anyway. I have too much to do with my family. I have to watch TV. I have to listen to this song. I have to get on Facebook and post cliche fucking memes that are all Pollyanna sweetness.
No. That isn’t what gets things done. What gets things done is actually DOING them.
Most of my life I have believed in that mantra of, “We aren’t called human doings, we are human BEINGS.” I was focused on the “just be” part of life. One of my favorite quotes is by the Avett brothers, “Decide what to be and go be it.” They don’t say, “Decide what to do and go do it.” I need to just be and everything will be all right–right? No. I need to just sit and meditate and say my ‘om’s’ or something and just be, then everything will come into play in my life. This may work for some people. But, in the last seven months, I have learned at an increasing pace, that this DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. I cannot just be. I have to actively do what I am intended to do while I am on this planet being. I think that is actually what the Avett brothers were meaning in that song, I just got it wrong. Sometimes it takes me a bit to get it.
So, back to the article–I felt pretty shitty for a few days after I read it and didn’t realize why. Then, without thinking about it, I started changing some things in my life. The world didn’t end on December 21, 2012 and on December 22, 2012 in the very early morning hours, I smoked my last cigarette. I wasn’t planning on quitting, I just did. It was the first step I had taken and it seriously gave me a feeling of immense control. I realized that that is what I was missing–I wasn’t in control of anything in my life. I was not doing anything for me that I needed to do. I saw myself as a martyr and I wanted to make sure everyone else was taken care of. Well, that is bullshit. Talk about egotistical–that is the very definition of it. The people on planes have things right. When you are told the whole spiel about the oxygen masks falling down– what do they tell you to do if you have kids with you? They tell you to put the mask on yourself first, then put it on them. They tell you that because if you aren’t breathing, you can’t help your kids. If you aren’t doing what you are supposed to do and taking care of yourself, you cannot help anyone else.
New Years rolls around and on one lovely day in January 2013 (I don’t know the exact date) I sat my happy butt at the computer and started actually writing. I didn’t know what I was going to write, I just let it all flow out of me and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I stayed up all hours of the night to write what I was inspired to write about. It wasn’t the greatest, but I was writing and that was/is all that matters. By the middle of February I had sixteen chapters and over 100,000 words…then I started writing another story. I wrote and wrote all the way through April and then I just stopped. I don’t remember why I did. It was probably life or some other thing going on or I fell back into martyr mode. I would still write every now and then, but never as consistent as I was writing earlier in the year.
May through Mid-July fucking sucked. I wish I could blame it all on my illness, but I can’t. I couldn’t blame all the negativity and all the mediocrity on that. I had given up. I had let self-doubt sneak it’s way in and I let it eat me whole. I felt like writing wasn’t worth it, because it wasn’t going to amount to anything. I felt hollow and empty and then one day…I decided to write again. I didn’t write about anything to do with my story, I just wrote to get shit out of me. I wrote for the love of writing. I wrote for my love of words and how they fit together. I came to the conclusion that I must write to keep the monster at bay. Because after hours of writing, I felt lighter and I felt truly free. The craziness drifted away into clarity. I came to that conclusion on my own, then being a lover of words and quotes and hours of reading them on goodreads.com I find out that Franz Kafka said himself:
“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”
So, I guess that wasn’t an original thought on my part per se. But, I really don’t care if it wasn’t my thought, I learned the truth…that if I don’t write, I do turn into a monster and I let myself be consumed by it.
Being a lover of words and how they fit together I also love music. It was music that was the final thing to get me back on track. I heard the song Better Son/Daughter by Rilo Kiley during the trailer for Orange is The New Black and it was because of that song that I watched the show. I immediately googled it and listened to it in its entirety, then something else clicked again.
Life isn’t easy. Life isn’t something that you can sit back and let take you for a ride. You have to actively participate or it will run you over. Don’t get me wrong, there are things in life that are completely out of your hands. Believe me, I know. And it is because of those things that we need to take control of what we can. Sometimes, you have to actively make things happen in your life and you keep doing it until it becomes natural. So, read these lyrics and really think about them:
And sometimes when you’re on you’re really fucking on
And your friends they sing along and they love you
But the lows are so extreme that the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in its absence
But you’ll fight and you’ll make it through
You’ll fake it if you have to
And you’ll show up for work with a smile
And you’ll be be better you’ll be smarter
More grown up and a better daughter
Or son and a real good friend
And you’ll be awake and you’ll be alert
You’ll be positive though it hurts
And you’ll laugh and embrace all your friends
And you’ll be a real good listener
You’ll be honest you’ll be brave
You’ll be handsome you’ll be beautiful
You’ll be happy
The things I have now learned: I have to write to keep sane. If you want to be something, you have to actually do something. And, the third thing is this: it is all an amazing fucking ride and once you jump on and actively participate, you will truly feel alive.