Folks read my work daily, trailing their way through a decade's worth of writing. Writing that no one paid me to do. Writing that was not (and is not) supported by advertising or sponsors. Writing that is purely for you--my now global audience.
Why? Because I can....
For, without readers, what is a writer?
And yet, not all readers are created equal. Some of you are here because you like the informative, engaging and accessible format that often takes less than 10 minutes to read, yet keeps you satisfied for days, weeks--even years. People come back to certain topics time and again. One of my most popular posts was written six years ago, yet 100's of unique visitors still flock to it every month. I find that fascinating.
I followed one particular reader's meanderings through a decade of my writing today, cringing as I clicked through the same links they did. At least I'm consistent. Still, I reveal so much about myself, it can be unnerving at times--even for me. My analytical jaunt did make me wonder if any of my readers note that, as much as I appear to reveal, there's still quite a bit that I don't....
When I meet new people, it feels dishonest to not say who I am. But whenever I do, inevitably, there's this thing that ends up hanging between us--where, I am made vulnerable thanks to my writing, and, they're not. It creates a vertical relationship, especially when the other person isn't sharing on their end, too.
For the record, it's not fair to be judged by thoughts from a decade ago, or even three years ago. Most of the time, when a person who is not me meets someone new, you get to control your own narrative--and, timing. When, where and how you share your past--if you share at all. Because I'm a writer--and a life writer/poet at that--I give up pieces of myself to not just the anonymous reader, but to anyone I'd like to build a relationship with in my past, present and future.
There's a voyeuristic aspect to it--learning about a person without ever having to ask permission. In a typical relationship, you both get to ask questions over time. A slow, controlled release of information when you're ready to talk about it. But, that's not how it works for me. And, at the moment, I can't help but feel a little frustrated by the obvious inequity of it all.
True art is not a choice...it's a compulsion.
The art inside you is not designed to stay there. There's no choice to it. It must come out. One way or another. Maybe it eventually bleeds out of your veins when you spend years trying to find something like love, never understanding why it's so elusive--until you sit down for an afternoon with your analytics and see yourself through another's eyes.
In moments like this, my thoughts inevitably circle back to Jonathan....
I'm missing his sense of Destiny and Fate being a unified continuum. And it makes me start to question pretty much everything. To believe that if another person had died, you might also be gone??? That's very intense. In a good way. You see, until very recently, I haven't been able to afford the luxury of that kind of thinking. How does Fate as Destiny translate to an undeserved cancer diagnosis when you're just a teen? Or, to being abandoned by family when you needed them most? What about being raped? Or, having your bones broken simply because you're a woman who turned her back on a bigger, stronger man???
Let's clear the decks, shall we? Your vibe DOES NOT attract your tribe--if you "shine," you attract EVERYONE:
Good, bad and ugly....
More negatives can and will happen to you as a result. Real life isn't like a fairy tale. No one will save you from the bad guys. There's no genie in the bottle. No fairies living in the sylvan glen. No man who will swoop in to save you either. You just have to endure. You "save" yourself by adapting...in other words, letting things go.
After enough time, you get so used to letting go that you have no idea how to hold on to anything...or, anyone. That's the unspoken origin of hesitation. And, apathy.
Once in a great while, even people as love-challenged as me can find someone who just fits. It's akin to randomly peeking under your couch and magically finding the one puzzle piece you've been missing all along...yet, when you try to edge it closer, you realize (with heavy heart) that it's just beyond your reach. You try everything--a poker from the fireplace, a broom stick--yet nothing seems to get you there. You don't want to risk losing (or destroying) it, so instead, you end up doing nothing. But, generally speaking, nothing comes from nothing. Unless you meet a person who's intelligent, kind and patient. Then, you might have a shot at something....
In "real" life, if there was an "unreachable" puzzle piece, I'd simply move the couch or armoire, or whatever obstacle blocked my path, and fetch the damn thing! But it's not that easy with people, is it? Fate can bring you together, but Destiny is still a choice. We decide to take up the Campbellian call to adventure. Or, not.
We're often reluctant to start something new--I know I was. It doesn't get any easier as time rolls on either. You may find yourself thinking something like this:
"Why should I put myself through any difficulty? I'm doing okay right now, and I'll continue to be okay."
But, you're not okay. And when you hit the next down-cycle, you'll suddenly remember that you're far from being okay. Sadly, by the time that happens, the moment, the circumstance, the opportunity, the job, and/or, the person, may be long gone....
If we're honest with ourselves, we can see that we're not prudent or pragmatic, we're complacent. We're afraid to take risks because we're also afraid of incurring further loss. But I can say with total honesty (and clarity) after reading a decade's worth of my thoughts today, that I'd rather take ANY RISK than be writing and thinking (and living) the same things over and over again for yet another decade.
I taught writing for a very long time and hope to continue doing so for many years to come. Writing is a skill that can be learned. True, some are born with the compulsion, but even "natural" writers get better with practice. It's the same in matters of love, too...I just haven't had the opportunity to get in much practice there. I feel too "old" for that to be the case, but it's no less true. Thanks to you, my readers, I think I'm starting to understand why....
Like investing your time in Hallmark movies, you only sit on the couch, watching artificial romance unfold because you're too afraid to go to dinner alone. Because, when you do, you might actually have the opportunity to meet someone. To turn around while eating your Thai curry, and start talking to the cute guy in the booth behind you.
That cute guy can't talk to you unless you turn around first, and of course, smile. Only when you have the guts to turn around can a conversation begin. From there, anything (and everything!) is possible. But you have to first decide to turn around, don't you???
Do you really think the year 2020 is going to go get a coffee with friends while you get yourself together?
Two weeks, That's your deadline. Have you been missing a puzzle piece for the last decade? If you have, don't worry. It only takes 10 minutes to make a call, type out a text, or, compose an email.
There may be 14 days left in 2019, but you can still get A LOT done in two weeks...that is, if you want to. As I learned this past June, when you hesitate too long, you give up your agency. And unfortunately, once that happens, you can never get it back. The one thing we can't reclaim in our linear lives is time. Once gone, it's gone forever. I'll never not regret that one night of heart-wrenching hesitation. I thought that I'd received a second chance to make things right, and maybe I did...but in my heart (and soul), I can't shake the sense that had I not initially hesitated, things would be different today.
I took the photo above while hiking on 9 October in Ireland. My heart was so full, so open after that the very next day, a real miracle occurred. True magic. In fact, I've never experienced anything like it. But I hope that my 2020 (and beyond) is filled to the brim with such moments. Many, many more. I hope yours is, too.