Last blog, I talked about not beating yourself. A lot of people tend to defeat themselves before they begin. Also in general, a lot of talk is about finding fulfillment. I have the belief that these two things are connected. I find simplicity is the key to dealing with both ends to this. How not to defeat yourself, and what to do when you get there.
A little bit of clarification before I really get into this. No, this is not a one hundred percent guarantee of things working out for you exactly as you want. Also note the key word in all this; I said simple. Simple is NOT easy. I don’t want to hear about how I make it sound. I make it sound simple. Easy is another story altogether.
I’m happy with myself. I didn’t get there overnight, and I’m still working on things. This is as always an ongoing process. That said, I’m content. And I do it with four rules
1. Show up
This seems so easy right? So obvious. It’s certainly not glamorous, but it may be the most important rule of all. This is the first step, and sometimes, the last.
Right place and right time is real key. Opportunities come your way when you least expect them. At the last When Words Collide, I had the opportunity to sit next to Mark Leslie and wanted to interview him. I had already gathered a bunch of people and the timing wasn’t good. On Sunday afternoon I found myself with an hour to spare and found Mark walking by. After we exchanged pleasantries, I asked if he’d be up to an interview. He agreed, and here’s our interview.
I didn’t do anything special to get this opportunity. I was there. And really, the sum of the rule. If you are where you are supposed to be, you will find opportunities you never anticipated. This was one very cool interview, and it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t just shown up.
Rule #2: Do Your Thing
This is the vaguest rule, because for each person here, your thing varies. Some of us punch a clock, others box, others write, or draw or do music. But whatever that thing is, do it. Do it often, do it proud, but do it.
For me, that is either writing or podcasting. Writing is my first love and still is. I work on words all the time. Even if its final form is unique from time to time, it all starts to me from the point of view of telling a story. Podcasting to me, is another form of storytelling. I get to talk to amazing people who do amazing things all the time and I hear pieces of their story. One definitely ties to the other.
The best reason to do things is that actions cause reactions. I submit a story, it is rejected or accepted and in the process opportunities arise. My next next project is the result of a request from Colleen Anderson. She wanted me to do an epic poem for her Lewis Caroll collection and the idea of an Alice story came to me.
I did it. I submitted it. It got rejected. However, it led down the path to me kind of discovering that maybe I have more than a story, but a really cool game. More on that as it develops, but yeah, I did a thing, things happened, which led to more things.
Momentum is a powerful lever. It pushes you forward. Objects in motion tend to keep moving. So do all the things.
#3 Don’t Quit
This is the hardest rule I think. Because there are no guarantees. In Arizona there were times when I was really struggling. I was hitchhiking to work, often arriving to it dead on arrival, I wasn’t eating enough, money was tight, and I wondered if I ever would leave that place. Dying seemed tempting.
Dying at that point would have been easy. Who doesn’t want the pain to stop? Just to have a moment where you’re numb you know? You don’t feel all the bumps and pains and bruises. Where you can just forget.
I kept going. Because I didn’t want to stay there in that place. I had things to do, goals to accomplish. People I wanted to see again. I wanted a chance to do it right this time, and not end up like this again. So I kept going and fighting and in time I got out and moved forward.
No matter how bad it seems in the moment, remember that it’s just a moment. Moments pass. Look at what you’re fighting for. A wise man once told me that the secret is never to look too closely at the shit you have to walk through. A person that focuses on the obstacles in front of them never defeats them.
The person who focuses on the goal, gets the goal.
All that time I wanted to finish that comic. I wanted to achieve something while I was there. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but I did it.
#4 The Rest is Rain
Life never works out quite the way you plan it. I know people in my life that hate the idea of plans, and I see their point sometimes. Why set up expectations? Plans never work out the way you foresee them.
They don’t. So why do them then?
Direction, focus, expectations are important. You need hope, you need faith, and you need a tangible summit of the mountain you set to climb. You’re no longer at the whims of just fate. You are exercising your will in the eye of the storm.
Sometimes it works out even better than you imagine.
I had this plan once I was back on my feet to start working towards another poetry collection. I had published a collection called “I Am..” a long, long time ago. I wanted to start again, a similar way.
This time i wanted to do a longer poem. So this vision of a boy in a watchtower surrounded by dragons below him came to me. So I started writing, adding my frustrations to having a day job in front of me coming. Next thing I know I tell a nice tale with chapter one called “The Watcher” in front of me. I really liked it, and yet, I felt like there was more to the story.
So I wrote what happened next. And then, what happened next. I just kept wondering what would happen.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that this was my poetry collection. I was telling a story and wanted it finished, just to see how it would go.
I finished it, and hired an amazing illustrator named Florence Chan to do some illustrations. Once it was done, I had just planned to do an ebook. I did one on Smashwords and it was bought by someone I interviewed a long time ago. Justine Dowsett came to me after reading it and asked me what I wanted to do with it. When I revealed my cunning plan, she offered to publish it.
The rest is history.
Now don’t get me wrong, things don’t always go this well. Sometimes you fail on an epic scale. Mistakes are going to happen, and you are going to fall from time to time.
But doors always open.
So those are my four rules. Now, how do you ask how do they make you more at peace?
The answer is that they teach you more about you. Most of what I’ve discovered about myself has involved me taking action, taking chances, and being willing to see things through. By developing expectations, and goals and being unafraid to fail, I have done and learned so much. I never would have realized what I was capable of if I hadn’t tried.
Success definitely helps, but so has my failures. I’ve learned what is possible, what is real, what I can do, what I’m willing to do. If I hadn’t went for it, if I hadn’t tried, I’d have wondered and held back.
This is not something I learned overnight. Many trials have come and gone for me to get this far. And it’s still a struggle. It always is. A big secret to seeking happiness is to go for big things. To care about the result, and going for things that seem bigger than you imagine. We are not meant to be small. Writing this, I realize that there is still a lot I need to work on. I’m not satisfied, even if I am happy with what I’ve done. I still got a lot to do.
Inner peace doesn’t come just meditation and reflection. It requires action. It requires self expectations and it requires taking chances on you. Only then do you really learn who you are. Fulfillment comes from doing, not just watching, and waiting and drifting.