Guilt Sucks!!

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OK, so here’s what is going on with me: I’m wandering around the house feeling guilty for not doing several things at once. I feel as though I need to exercise, I feel as though I need to be writing, I feel as though I need to go buy some clothes for Hawaii, I feel as though I should go get a haircut, I feel as though I need to call my friend from Boston, and I feel as though I need to be cleaning the house. This overwhelming feeling leaves me paralyzed. While I struggle to decide which important thing I should be doing, I end up doing nothing. In order to work through this guilty feeling, I have decided to at least write about it so I’m doing one of the things I said I feel guilty about not doing.

It’s crazy; I sit and watch the clock tick away and I’m guiltier by the minute. I read for a little bit this morning, then made breakfast and sat down for a half-hour show and all of a sudden it’s after 10:00. Next thing I know, I’ll be off to get my son from school at 4:30 and I haven’t completed anything I planned on doing all day. That is not how the day has to go though. I can do things differently. I can write for a while, and then take the puppy for a walk, then clean for a while, then get my son from school. It all can be done with the time I have. As long as I stay out of my head long enough to not get sucked into some vortex of self-pity, I can do what I need to do today with my time.

Interestingly, I find myself yearning constantly about being a successful author who writes life-changing material for people to read. I dream about having long blocks of time to be able to pour my heart out on blank page after blank page. If only I didn’t have my day job I could become rich and famous for putting all these funny and quirky ideas that have been clanking around in my head like marbles in a pump into a readable format for the masses. Instead, I’m a poor helpless victim because I can’t spend the time writing that I wish I could. If only life were fair, I would be able to write every day in my boxers while sipping on coffee in the morning and red wine in the evening. While I’m at it; if life were fair I would be able to eat anything my poor little heart desired without having to deal with the emotional baggage that is making me overindulge in the first place. I should just be able to crinkle my nose like I Dream of Genie and all my issues would be solved. Right?

Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair and life does require something of me. I have to actually show up. I’m not going to randomly get a call from John Grisham’s agent one day and hear: “Yes, hi Travis, this is Agent Jim Doe, I understand you want to be a writer? I can’t wait to read everything you have been writing. You have been writing haven’t you?” That phone call is never going to happen unless I actually have been writing and writing enough to have something to offer the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been writing. But if my goal is to be a world-renowned author will I ever get to that point by only writing a paragraph or two every day? Sure, over the course of thirty years I might actually have enough to piece together a decent book, but if I want to enjoy the rewards of a fruitful writing career I have to go at it a little fiercer than a couple of paragraphs per day.

Given the struggle I have with my guilty feelings I mentioned earlier, I won’t become a successful author if I won’t sit down to write on the days I have extra time to sit down to write. Those are the days I can fill page after page until my ears are going to pop since the ideas are flowing fast. But truth be told, if I am dedicated to becoming an author, I need to write every spare moment I can get. I need to give writing so much focus that I can’t think about anything else when I’m awake except writing. If I’m not writing, when will I be able to write next? When I’m falling asleep, what do I plan on writing about when I wake up? Every spare moment I can steal away for the process of writing needs to be utilized in order to become the next great American author.

I may never become the next great American author for many reasons that will never be fully understood. Some authors don’t have the privilege of seeing their ideas supported during their lifetime while other authors experience waves of success that may seem undeserving in comparison. Nonetheless, whether success comes during my lifetime, after I’m dead, or not at all I must sit down and put my ideas on paper.

One of my favorite authors is Eric Hoffer because he worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco by day but wrote nearly a dozen small books throughout his lifetime. He wrote a book that became a bestseller called The True Believer: thoughts on the nature of mass movements. His book was written in 1951 and attempted to answer how people could willingly give themselves to mass movements whether they were meant for good or evil. After Hitler and the Holocaust several people in the world started asking themselves questions about how we could treat one another so despicably. Hoffer did his best to describe individuals who gave themselves completely to mass movements. He says, “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves. The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready is he to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

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I picked Eric Hoffer as an example because he worked full-time while he wrote his ideas. His sole income didn’t come from his writing and truth be told he probably didn’t make very much money from the books he did publish. Interestingly, though, this full-time longshoreman, part-time author, died in 1983 but his ideas live on many decades beyond him. When I think about being an author who may or may not sustain a respectable income from my ideas, I succumb to the fact that the income I receive is not my main concern. Sure, being rewarded for slapping the keyboard day after day seems like a fair and novel idea but the reward is in the life that was changed that I may never even know about. Decades, even centuries, could pass and the idea that I was brave enough to put down on paper could make a difference in someone’s life and could change the world for the better one person at a time. I may or I may not change the world, but if I don’t at least try I will never know.

Now that I have settled the writing part of my day and one of my reasons for guilt, I can move on to taking the puppy for a walk. Life is good.

What I’m Learning . . .

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I’m learning a lot about myself and life these days.

  • I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for what I need.
  • I’m learning that my dreams don’t magically come true without hard work.
  • I’m learning that my impatience or annoyance is more about my inner state of mind than it is about the one doing the annoying.
  • I’m learning that some people struggle being real and genuine and that’s okay.
  • I’m learning that I also struggle at times with being real and genuine and that’s okay too.
  • I’m learning that being vulnerable is risky but it’s also where the fertile soil is for personal growth and loving.
  • I’m learning that in regards to my diet and health, I’m either progressing or regressing: I’m rarely ever simply maintaining.
  • I’m learning that as a writer, writing doesn’t happen on its own.
  • I’m learning that the best of intentions are rarely ever good enough apart from taking action.
  • I’m learning that procrastinating rarely ever leads to greatness.
  • I’m learning the ability to follow through is more difficult than the rush of brainstorming.
  • I’m learning that time spent on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram does not necessarily count as online research.
  • I’m learning that my wife has the patience of Job most days and she truly fits the description of the better half.
  • I’m learning that sometimes the person in the most need of my love is me.
  • I’m learning that staying aware and present can be difficult when there are so many distractions.
  • I’m learning this world can provide me with awe and wonder every day if I slow down enough to look.
  • I’m learning that peace and contentment originate inside myself regardless of my environment.
  • I’m learning that my children teach me way more about life than I could possibly teach them.
  • I’m learning the answers to life’s questions usually come to me easier when I’m not so desperate to know them.
  • I’m learning that I’m never done learning as long as I’m alive and I’m totally cool with that!

I’m curious what you’re learning lately? Will you take a minute to comment and share?

 

Peace,

~Travis

PS. I’m learning that life is more enjoyable when I don’t take myself quite so serious.  😉

 

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Plumbing and Power

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Plumbing and Power

Yesterday I met with two different contractors after work–a plumber and an electrician. I pulled into home and before I could get out of my car the electrician was pulling in behind me. Truth be told, I actually forgot that I scheduled the appointment with the electrician. The plumber wasn’t supposed to be there until 5:00 so when someone was pulling in at 4:30 I just assumed the plumber was early. Thankfully I’m building right behind our current house otherwise I wonder how many other appointments I would miss. 🙂

The thing I love about consciously being in the present moment is no matter what I’m doing I can be engaged. There is never any time for boredom when I’m in the present. When I ended one of my previous posts talking about the NOW, it reminded me of picking up a book I read a few years back by Eckhart Tolle called, The Power of Now. The principles in this book have an epic effect on you if they’re applied.

Seems how I’m in the middle of building a house, browsing through The Power of Now has served as a great reminder (being in the Mysterious Flow works like that). Tolle says, “If you set yourself a goal and work toward it, you are using clock time. You are aware of where you want to go, but you honor and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment. If you then become excessively focused on the goal, perhaps because you are seeking happiness, fulfillment, or a more complete sense of self in it, the Now is no longer honored. It becomes reduced to a mere stepping stone to the future, with no intrinsic value. Clock time then turns into psychological time. Your life’s journey is no longer an adventure, just an obsessive need to arrive, to attain, to ‘make it.’ You no longer see or smell the flowers by the wayside either, nor are you aware of the beauty and the miracle of life that unfolds all around you when you are present in the Now.”

Some people have a difficult time adjusting their schedule if they forget they had an appointment. Having the unexpected meeting with the electrician wasn’t stressful for me at all. I told him I would set my stuff down and be right out. We got right down to business walking through rooms and talking about outlets and lights and ceiling fans. Even though I was talking and planning for the future, being in the Now was a very comfortable place to be. Things could have turned a little stressful when the plumber showed up before the electrician left but no big deal. I just told the plumber I would be with him in a few minutes and he was welcome to go explore the place.

Have you ever been around someone who quite often says they are worried about something? Are you someone that worries a lot? Or do you know someone who can’t seem to let go of the past or says they are still hurt by something that happened years ago? Tolle continues, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry–all forms of fear–are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence. Most people find it difficult to believe that a state of consciousness totally free of all negativity is possible. And yet this is the liberated state to which all spiritual teachings point. It is the promise of salvation, not in an illusory future but right here and now.”

I know sometimes I read things too fast and don’t totally comprehend what I just read so if I do that I have to believe you are capable of doing that too. So, please go back and REREAD THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH. If you grasp what he is saying it can change your life. There is never any reason you need to live in the past or worry about the future again. That huge lie you told was in the past. The abortion you had was in your past. The relationship you messed up was in the past. On the other hand, stressing about a speech you have to give is in the future. Worrying about getting the plumbing installed before the dry-waller gets there is in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I can focus on the plumbing and strive to get it complete before it is time for drywall, but worrying about it won’t help. “Worrying is a lot like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” (my favorite quote from one of my favorite comedies, Van Wilder)

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that living in the Now is the place to be. I can’t promise that you won’t still have heartache or difficult times, but I can promise that you will be able to let go of the unnecessary burdens you are carrying around. The freedom you will encounter will be refreshing and your outlook on life will drastically change. Now is more powerful than you can imagine!

Give it a try!

~Travis