Think of Yourself as a Manuscript (Review, revise, resubmit…)

Manuscript

Yesterday I took a short walk in town and observed the people around me.  Some were focused.  Others were in a hurry.  Many were lining up at the sport’s bar excited about football.  There is a small redwood tree park I walk through to get home and two men were jamming on their electric guitars on one of the pathway benches.  They had some real harmony going on and I wanted to stay and hang out, but that would have been kind of weird.  They were just practicing, not performing.  The cases to their instruments were closed – not open for spare change.  Obviously they were playing because they loved playing.

This weekend I kind of just took it easy, which is rare for me.  I’m always on the go, but one thing I did do was write, which is something I used to procrastinate doing.  When I used to sit down and write, it took a lot of effort.  It was like trying to tame a wild boar inside of me that was more interested in distractions than the discipline of writing.  The irony was, if I wasn’t writing, I felt like I was wasting my life away.  I think most writers can relate here – we just have this innate need to write.  If we don’t do it, we feel awful about it.  So for most of my life, I have written poetry or short stories to calm down that inner stirring to write, but when I got sober, I knew where I wanted to place my life’s focus.

I’ve never had any doubt that writing was what I am supposed to be doing.  The hardest part about writing is following through and finishing the manuscript, so I challenged myself to complete my projects.  It was not easy.  There was no one there to root me on, or any indication that what I was writing would be worth reading.  If I liked what I was writing, it was a good indication to me that other people would enjoy reading it, but there is a huge process to achieving the goals I have for myself.  Editing my own work is a never-ending task.  Every time I re-read my completed manuscripts, I find errors.  Writers not only have to complete their manuscripts – we have to re-write them.  Then we have to go through them with a fine-tooth comb.  After that, there’s the cover art, marketing, social media networking, soliciting for representation, self-promotion, etc.  It’s a huge commitment.  I mean, I don’t honestly know what drives me except that I told myself a long time ago that I was going to do this.  I got behind the wheel of this ship and focused on the horizon up ahead.  Any challenge that comes between me and that horizon is worth taking-on.  I’ve made that commitment to myself, you see.

Sometimes I’m hard on myself because I want something other than what I have right now.  I’ve been struggling with this a lot.  I mean, I blog about living in the moment and being happy and accepting of what I have right now.  For the most part, I am happy for what I have right now, but there is also this drive toward that horizon.  Last night I was at a meeting listening to someone’s story, which was pretty mild in comparison to mine.  She drove drunk with four children all the time and never got a DUI.  She was never arrested or evicted or publicly humiliated.  While she was speaking I was staring at the floorboards of the room, listening and looking at all the little grooves in the wood.  Something occurred to me that all I am in life is one of those little grooves among endless other little grooves.  Even if my story is a powerful one, it may never get heard the way I desire it to be heard.  My manuscripts are the same thing.  Little grooves in the wood among many. What even drives me I ask myself?  Some people make it big while others do not.  It’s a crap shoot really.  The truth is, when you’re driven to a grand horizon, you’ve got to accept the fact that you may never make it there.  That’s really important to grasp.  You’ve got to do what you love doing for the love of it, just like those guys with the electric guitars in the park.

I had to surrender last night to my drive.  Instead of beating myself up for my desire to have something more than what I have now (which, again, is like taming a wild boar), I decided that I would surrender to the fact that I have no control over my drive.  It’s always been there.  Even when I was darkly failing myself, the drive was there deep down inside.  It’s one of those things I cannot deny about myself, or pretend that it doesn’t exist.  I would love to say that I’m completely here and now, and satisfied because of my here and now.  I have goals for my life, and that’s always been the case.  I have a fire under my feet.  It’s ok.  I’m going to accept this about myself now and just hang out with it.  Whether it’s good or bad, isn’t the question.  The question is – am I willing to accept this about myself?  I can allow the drive to lead me and taunt me and holler at me, or I can just stop and feel out this inner pulling of mine.  I’ve never really done that before.  All along I’ve been identifying with it and allowing it to lead the way for me.  I’ve never really denied it, but I also haven’t been completely honest about it either.

Surrendering is a constant thing we must do.  Self-awareness is part of recovery.  If I go along my life succumbing to this drive, I may find myself tortured if my goals are not accomplished.  For the longest time, I thought this drive was normal, but last night I realized that I haven’t even acknowledged it or faced it, or separated myself from it and become the watcher of it.  But this inner boar – it’s been part of my identity for quite some time.  I just realized that the drive is not “who I am” – it’s simply another facet of my personality, which I haven’t taken the time to observe yet.  I observed other people yesterday without even noticing how driven I was to complete a manuscript I was writing. What is this drive of mine even about?

Why is this important?  Because if I’m being driven and not aware that I am being driven, then I am just as lost as most people in the world.  I’m always talking and writing about self-awareness, but self-awareness is a never-ending journey.  It’s like the manuscripts I’m constantly editing.  I’m basically like a walking-talking manuscript.  There may never be a masterpiece here, but I’m always chipping away at things that no longer serve me, and noticing what run-on sentences are in my train of thoughts.  I’m constantly in a state of surrender realizing things about myself that I hadn’t previously considered.  This drive of mine – I hadn’t considered.  So what it is it about?  Why do I identify with it so deeply?  Why does it have so much power over me? Surrender, acceptance, surrender, acceptance… surrender.

We all have things we overlook about ourselves.  We all identify with elements of our personality that are not truly “who we are.”  What I mean by this is that who we are is greater than the mere personality of ourselves.  We are infinite beings; limitless souls.  The personality is a road block, so it’s good to observe it once in a while and to chip away at it – surrender to the parts of yourself that aren’t serving you any longer.  What part of your personality have you not considered?  It’s a good question to ask, because it brings you back to that place of humility.  It centers you.  It keeps you present.  As much as I want to be present, I’m constantly on the go to get somewhere.  I don’t have to beat myself up about it.  I simply have to know this about myself.  I have to know what’s getting in the way of the greater part of me that exists in a place without desire or longing.  It’s that desire and longing that keeps us in a state of suffering, you see.  And the state of suffering is easily eradicated with a simple declaration of surrender.  It’s a constant thing we have to do.  It’s a discipline.  Like my writing, self-awareness does not promise that I will ever achieve anything.  It’s merely a thing I do because it serves the purpose of keeping me sober and steady.

So we must constantly ask ourselves, what is it about my personality that I haven’t yet considered?  What is blocking me from who I truly am?  And we must chip away at these facets of our personality by surrendering and accepting.  The goal isn’t to become enlightened.  The goal is always to continue discovering ourselves.  It is a never-ending journey, but the journey is always now, and now is always the goal.  There is nothing in the horizon.  The horizon doesn’t exist, and it is also not something separate from us.  It is not up ahead.  The horizon is you.  The horizon is me.  If you don’t understand, just keep chipping away at the personality.  Continue surrendering; continue accepting.

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