My friends, writing is hard. Hard to keep up with, hard to do well, hard to show to other people for criticism. It’s like But it’s what I want to build my career around. I might be a little crazy but I can’t help it — I love good writing. Why do I pursue something that’s so difficult and uncertain? Why didn’t I just get an engineering degree so I could earn the big bucks and not worry about job security? (Well, partly because I’m sure that engineering is also really hard, and I suck at math.)
What I wish I wrote with, instead of crappy rollerball pens. Via Flickr user John Morgan.
But there’s more to it than my poor math skills. This week I read a post by Penelope Trunk about whether we should pursue happiness or meaning in our lives. The post neatly outlines her argument with a simple but compelling story. After reading it, it made me think of Joseph Campbell’s exhortation to “follow your bliss,” another misunderstood philosophy. Following you bliss can sound like “follow pleasure” but that’s not it at all. Campbell meant that we should find our meaning and hold on to it. Finding meaning, following your passion, can be really hard and uncomfortable. Pursuing meaning sometimes invites stress and conflict into your life, as Penelope Trunk points out, but it doesn’t have to be negative. If you feel part of something larger than yourself, that can be its own reward. Problem solving can be its own reward. Making a living out of what you are most passionate about can be its own reward, even if doesn’t necessarily win you approval or financial stability. (Although I must admit, I do aim for financial stability.)
So, I guess that’s why I write. Writing has been my bliss ever since I was nine years old. I don’t know what that will always look like or what the future will hold, but I’m need to be reminded that happiness comes from meaningful work and relationships.
Today I’m grateful for: early morning meditation practice, and my friend who led it. I’m going to try and start my days out better.
No time for a long post today, but I do want to share some words of wisdom from Barbara, an amazing writer and long-distance friend. She just wrote a blog post about finding our passions and writing and editing as a metaphor for life. Well-timed for my own writing challenge this month, but meaningful for non-writers too:
“there i was, red pen in hand, poring over pages that are typed-out vessels from my heart. more like prayer cards, each and every one. it’s called editing, but really it’s distilling. distilling to the essence, paring away excess. cutting to the bone. it happens to be essential to the craft of writing, but really it’s essential in this odyssey called life.”
Read the whole thing — you won’t regret it. I’ll be carrying her words with me as I try to stick with my goals, which are (now that I think about it) an attempt to find out what’s essential to my life.
Today I’m grateful for: the wise women in my life, including my mom who I am visiting this weekend.
The problem with writing about a new set of goals every month is that life doesn’t fit neatly into that timeline. I could write about community — how we cultivate it, how much we need it, but also how frustrating and messy it is — for months. I’m just scratching the surface right now. Book club seems to be gaining steam. I participated in my first committee meeting at church. I wrote another letter. I won’t stop doing any of these things, and I also probably won’t stop writing about them. But before I move on to (or just add, really) new goals, I have a few more thoughts.
Putting myself out there, organizing events, and getting involved wasn’t easy for me. I have worshiped solitude for a long time. I’m a natural introvert. Being alone makes me feel peaceful and content. And truth be told, that will never change. Too much socialization makes me feel thin, like “butter scraped over too much bread” as Bilbo Baggins would say. On the other hand, when I don’t feel rooted in place, connected to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, I’m miserable and lonely. I’ve realized that this connectedness is about more than just gratitude — it’s about grace, and patience, and love, and letting go. There is so much more I want to articulate, so if y’all are okay with me coloring outside the lines, I’ll keep writing about that as the spirit moves me. Also, while we are talking about past goals, I am really getting on board with this whole eating more veggies and fewer animal products diet. I went on a business trip last week and I ate so much meat and eggs. Having a veggie burger for lunch today felt so good.
But it’s also time to add something new. October crept up on me and I’m feeling a little scattered, so I have one one goal for this month: write three pages every day. Doesn’t matter what it is but I have to write for myself and not for work. I will also use this as an excuse to do some creative writing prompts and maybe even buy some new art supplies for doodling/painting as well. I’m generally terrible at writing every day, so I’ll let you know how this project goes.
Today I’m grateful for: my new knitting project and Netflix (always Netflix).
[Image via Sean McGrath]