I have been avoiding my computer for about three weeks now. There are no good reasons for it, ever. Yet it remained to be true until now. I had been contemplating, avoiding contemplating, searching, distracting, preoccupying myself from doing what I know is inevitable. I keep talking myself into and out of what I know that I want. I want to write. Having the courage to write the things I know I am supposed to well, that’s another story.
The vulnerability, doubt, insecurity, uncertainty all stem from the same place. Shame. It’s a dirty word, I know that to be true. It’s the only word, concept, feeling, experience we all share universally among humanity. It controls, stops and gets in the way and worst of all it’s something that has to be allowed or given permission to experience.
I’ve read Brene Brown’s book The Gifts Of Imperfection. It is now required reading in our family. I remember being shame resilient at a few points in my life. Right now, I am vacillating between certainty/strength and uncertainty/shame.
I have a terrible habit of putting a great deal of pressure on myself when I endeavor to do anything. I’m going to go ahead and call it Ego. Anytime I start in a direction I can only conceive of the pinnacle of my achievement. Having pondered that incessantly, I become overwhelmed and I haven’ t even gotten dressed and walked out the door much less done anything else.
This is a real problem. A very real problem. I’ve been telling myself for as long as I can remember that I can do anything. I started to believe it. The bad thing is, it’s not necessarily true until I do something. But if I’m spending my days believing I can do anything and yet not completing anything, then I am in fact not doing anything. Crazy, obvious and yet glaringly true…so I see.
I had started along a path to filmmaking this summer. It’s something I have dreamed about doing for as long as I can remember. I have not acted on that dream until very recently. I wrote a screenplay, started a production company and have started attending an actors workshop here in Tampa.
I haven’t been so scared to do something in a very long time. The closer it got to me having to go to class I became very nervous. I started imagining having to act, improv, being inept, missing the mark, just name it. I hadn’t even attended class yet and I had already conceived fifty ways to embarrass myself.
Horrifying, unnecessary, unproductive yes. But I am nothing if not vigilant in my self pruning. Throughout the chaotic span of the last few months here at our new home I have been watching myself very carefully, trying to glean any truth about what is really going on above and below the surface of myself.
I’ve learned that the truth of what is going inside lies not in the words but in body language.
As humans I can only determine that as a survival tactic humans are adept at hiding the true motivations and feelings from ourselves as well as others for the most part.
I have found that the most telling truths about myself were things I telegraph in the moment. From the way I hold my head, were I set my eyes, the line my shoulders make when someone is talking to me. All the signs are showing me what my mind has already processed that I keep my eyes from seeing.
I’ve learned to watch myself and more importantly I stop listening to what my mind is distracting me from and started asking my heart to open it’s lovely den of light and let a beam of truth come out and point the way.
Last night was no different from any other night over the last three weeks of distraction. I played a few game demo’s I watched a few sit coms and went to bed. As I sat in bed sipping my Sleepytime Tea looking at my phone for the gazillionth time getting fed up with myself, my phone and Facebook I closed the screen and put my phone down. Then I picked it up again almost immediately. As I hold the phone in my hand, I think for a moment, What am I still looking for? I wish I knew what I am supposed to do so I could stop looking. I unlock it again, I stare at the Home Screen and then I hear it.
Open Pinterest. It may show you what you’re looking for.
At first I didn’t see it. I read the words, I liked them and then as I kept scrolling it hit me. All these quotes are about writing. Then I just sat their smiling, stunned and feeling awed as well as loved. I had just moments before simply asked to just know what I am supposed to do. Vacillating back and forth between movie producer, mother, screenwriter, writer the choices and paths were all laid out before me.
Then I see this. So I took the hint and started a board on Pinterest called Needs. What happened last night, truth be told, happens to me all the time. ALL THE TIME. I could write a book about how I speak to the universe and it speaks back to me. But Paulo Coelho already did that in The Alchemist. Great book if you haven’t read it go now and do so.
After receiving this much asked for message at 12:30 AM on an idle Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I wrote my messenger a message:
To @pinterestuser here I was listening to the old familiar haunting that plagues me time after time. The soul searching and the berating taking its usual toll. I ask my heart and soul in earnest what am I waiting for? Why am I still searching, I wish I just knew what I’m supposed to do. I pick up my phone get fed up with FB and put it down. Moments later I pick it up and what do I do? I open Pinterest. A part of me says what you need you may find there. And like an answer to a song in the soul were all your recent posts about writing. I’ve been struggling with whether or not to continue. You’ve helped me with my answer by showing how connected we all are whether we realize it or not. You have been a friend to me by being a friend to yourself and for that and all the posts I thank you.
I had to say thank you. Who knows what she was doing pinning at that hour. Who cares? All I know is I heard the small still voice say, oh the answer you need, yeah it’s right here, your welcome. The messenger was some unsuspecting woman going about her own life, unknowingly making my night and days better. No small task.
So this morning I get up as usual, make eggs, sausage with tater tots for breakfast, full disclosure, not the usual breakfast, and get my kiddos off to school. As I am driving in my car, my mind does what it always does and starts to wander in the same intellectual concentric ego driven circles. As I am top rocking in my new chili red Mini Cooper Hardtop blasting my music I hear the same banshee cries from within, what? what? what?
Then I remember, HEY, I already know what I’m doing. I got this. But then I started wondering why am I still thinking like this? That’s when it donned on me. I am being motivated by all the old ghosts.
Then I had to ask myself, what are my ghosts? What do they want?
Upon reflection of the forces that fight to control me I have discerned that they mainly consist of, my ego, my expectations, my vanity, my fears, self inflicted pressures, shame, regret and ambition. These subconscious motivators, drives and forces have been pulling me anywhere but forward. So I did what I always do, I thought about it. (On a side note, as I was writing this part about ghosts, 8 vultures appeared in my back yard. They flew in a circle over my pond. When I noticed them, I grabbed my phone and started taking pictures. One by one they flew off until only four remained. I will post the picture here.)
I started rearranging my understanding of what’s important and necessary in my life. No longer allowing these forces to dictate my path I redefine and prioritize the significance I would give any of these ghosts. I do this by seeing that my life is really blessed. I fill the hunger of ambition with the understanding that I have all that I have ever wanted right now. There is no need for more when all I want is currently in my hands.
I handle regret with the kid gloves of being in the moment, like a shepherd I gently remind myself that no other moment counts but the one I am living right now. All the past is an apparition hoping to live again by stealing the glory and beauty of the present, like the unwanted ghost that it is…
I fought my ego long ago. It was a great and terrible battle. Just terrible. Many many many casualties of war, thinking of this fills me with a tremendous amount of guilt. That guilt helps me in ways I had no idea were effective until a few years ago when I found my spiritual father. But that’s a tale for another post. My ego, although I fought and won, will raise her head and whisper a few things here and there. I know when she tries to take over, it feels like a hot, slick, slippery oil that twists, roils and rolls inside my chest confusing me into believing that the moment is more important than it is or that my actions are correct or worth fighting for, when in fact they are not. She is a tricky one Ego. She cares not for me or anyone else ever. We could call her Inner Demon but man that gets mouthy after a while. In any case, her whispers have become pictures, movies I play in my head. Movies of accomplishment, of award ceremonies, of achievement, I’m sure the picture is clear. She does this to entice me and then to paralyze me. That sly and awful manx. But now, I am onto her new wiles. So now, when I start to see those picturesque moments of pinnacle, I simply push them out and remember, all that I want, I already have anything more is just great.
By simply taking a real look at what I have done so far with my life, and seeing the lives I make a difference in each day, I see that all those other pressures are just that, Pressure.
I am not going to change the course again. I’m still going to get into film production, not to get an Oscar but hey that would be awesome. But because I think it will be gratifying. I will do it because I have always wanted to, not for any other reason.
Film production won’t be the only thing I do, I will also continue to write. I will write all the thoughts as they come. I will write until I find my voice. I will write because it is what I am supposed to do for no other reason than that, and that is good enough for me.