So I decided to visit family in upstate NY this holiday weekend and I spent the past few days making a great deal of decisions. These are not easy choices, mind you. Things that needed to be talked through and pondered over gallons of coffee and good friendship. Weighing the consequences of each action made me look inside myself for answers. While reflecting and reasoning over bagels and lattes I noticed out of the corner of my eye a small Tibetan shop in the local marketplace. Something called me over.
Once inside I began to see an immediate change in myself. The air was more breathable and there was something better about the way my shoulders fell easily beside my head. Without tensions that usually plague me, I took a deep breath of Nag Champa and peace filled my heart. Moving through the shelves of hand stitched beauty I came upon a dress I had to have, a scarf I plan to get next visit and a ring that blew my mind.
This ring carried the sacred mantra of Om Mani Padme Hum and it has an outer wheel that spins while sitting stable on your finger. As you fidget (as I find myself constantly doing) and turn the wheel, it is supposed to send out compassion to the surrounding universe. It is silver and red and cost a whopping six spot, and may just be the coolest thing I’ve found in a while.
I’ve been practicing yoga, meditation and mindful centering of the self. I can’t really get over how much it has healed my broken parts in every way I didn’t know I needed so much.
Every time I feel frustrated at the tiny amount of time that I have available to focus on my writing, I take a deep breath and recite my own mantra: “Calm, Quiet, Still.” It usually helps and I feel a little centered and ease into whatever the day may bring. When I put this ring on however, something happened. I had a rush of realization that was a long time coming and much needed. We control our own lives and we should be sure we hold onto the reigns.
I’ve always been stepping aside for others to shine. Ever since I was a kid I have been a great friend, a super listener, and basically glued together all the people in my life that kept cracking at the seams and falling apart. As I did so I not only knew I was putting my own progress on a shelf, I used it as fuel for the fire. I relished it because as I spent years stacking ammo, I felt that it would someday accumulate as enough to be a good book. When the time was right, it would get written. That was that.
Well I have decided something of immense value.
The time has arrived.
After ten years of editorial servitude, tutoring, teaching, and slaving over everything that a graduate degree in my field has lovingly provided, I’m deep in the midst of my own work and it feels amazing. Now to decide what to cut back on in order to make the shit happen!
It’s not going to be easy. In fact I am already feeling the pinch of everything as I try to pile my plate high in order to prep for taking a break. However, pinch as it may, I know that I have to do something. I’ve always encouraged friends to go for what they want and been a supporter of things that I thought were worth recognition. Man oh man do I hope that karma is indeed a boomerang as I have always assumed, suggested and prayed it would be. For all the good I have sent forth into my universe, I’m going to ask for a return of positive energy as I kick myself into go mode.
That’s right friends; my focus will now shift to my book because it needs to come out. I sleep and it whispers through dreams and passing breezes that it wants to be read. I work and it pulls at the corners of my mind as it hints that it wants to spring free from its prison within. I commute and my brain throbs, teeth twitch and spine curls as it tries to escape but knows it has two hours to get home. It knocked me flat with a full body shut down recently and told me to press reset or it would.
So I’m listening.
Queue mortal shift.
In the past I’ve always let my life spill over onto pages that reached some sort of audience. I’ve spoken words on stages and penned poems in zines. I’ve written articles and theses and newsletters and journal entries and ramblings. I’ve edited books and stories and letters and papers and web copy and created prose for book jackets and catalog copy and TI sheets and reviews and rejection letters and queries and everything under the literary sun.
But now is the time that my stories are either going to burst out of me or I am going to explode. So be it. What a scary feeling! But also sweet is the knowledge that I savor in the decisions I am making. Within a year I plan to have my stories in order and ready for press. I say a year for the coming months of overload and undersleep that I anticipate. The last of my 20s debt being washed away after years of consolidation and deferring has finally allowed a glimpse of the light at the end of this dim tunnel. I already know that I can do this in the hours when the world is asleep and my keys tap in a quiet house as two doggies snooze at my feet. Can I keep a deadline? Hell yes. Can I finish every project I start? You know it. Can I focus entirely on my own work?
God I hope so.
I say that with honesty and faith in the past few years that have brought me to where I stand. Faith abounds as I look at indies that climb the bestseller lists with fervor. I have faith in my work because I get more compliments than corrections or confusion. And I have faith in myself because if I don’t have that, nobody else will either, and that is simply not an option.
So I think of today as my Om Manifesto. This is a day that I deserve and a day that meant the world to me as I sat with my best friend under a café umbrella and spilled the seeds of my plan. A day that finds me blessed with love, good friends and family who will hold my hand on this journey and believe in me too. So what’s the catch? There is none. I feel loved. I feel words consistently flowing and I know I can do what I set out to do.
Why share it on paper? To keep me accountable of course. Once I set a goal, I have to reach it. Call it OCD, call it obsession, call it addiction, perfectionism, whatever you say to get it through the mind that resists—go for it. I know I do. But when you say that you will do something and tell the world—chances are you are going to try your damn hardest and surge on like never before. That’s what I’m going for, and so should you.
I guess that’s the message this week. Follow your dream and don’t get waylaid by nonsense along the way. Stay centered and focused and be who you are. Because you can rest assured that nobody else can do the amazing things that you do.
Write on. Let it out. Don’t fear the paper.