This is the final post for this month, which has been hectic and has hit me at my core. Thank you for everyone who has been around + for everybody who I’m getting the opportunity to touch in the future. This thing started as a way for me to speak down to my peers from a place of “enlightenment” but as I’ve written and seen that it’s really been helping people, I have had my ego deflated. It’s nice. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth and reminding me that I was not enlightened about anything. I’m a constant work in progress.
I often go through phases, we all do really. Periods of time in which we change our viewpoints or experience a different side of things than what we are used to. Often times, it can be good, but sometimes it can be terrible. Recently, I found myself in one of those situations. I really looked at my business plan and my relationships with those people I say out loud that I love and the words I said quickly turned into writing on the wall.
I saw myself in fifteen years, alone at my desk with over 30 books released, trying to get ahold of my old friends for the holidays because my work had finally slowed down. I didn’t see myself with a family or with friends at all, in fact. No one else answered. I fell asleep and dreamed about that day. Thanksgiving was rolling around the corner and I had no one to spend the holiday with. So I continued calling. I even searched out the people who weren’t that close to me and I called them, asking for nothing more than someone to spend the holiday with.
Those people all rejected me too.
I sat down on my bed in the dim light of a lonely writer’s studio apartment and in my dream I realized something. If I didn’t make an honest effort, all of those “I love you” and “Thank you” lines I spill so often mean nothing.
So, dream me laid back in his bed and began crying. The dream didn’t stop there as the ceiling of my apartment peeled away and revealed clouds in a dark sky.
I saw all of my friends one by one who didn’t have this pressure on their backs, who didn’t have these incredibly lofty goals to accomplish all eleven of them were there, images projected into a gloomy sky that played through all of their highs and their lows. All of the things that they had gone through. Marriages that I didn’t attend, holidays I was invited to but blew off because I was working, even though I wanted to be there. I watched all of them rattle down my bones as I laid in bed quaking with sorrow. Children and wives and memories they had made in cheesy dumb places like Disneyland, or the local fairs. I saw all of their proposals and I saw the ups and downs of their lives. I saw so many of them wish that I was there with them. They would call and I wouldn’t answer. I heard their words say that they were proud of me, but their faces said so much more. That I wasn’t there anymore. I had turned my back on those I love for my work.
Then, when the last of my close friends was finished telling me his story, I saw my parents. Much older than they are now, watching television and holding hands, talking about me. They commented on the last holiday I spent with them, which from the sounds of it had been years before. Before I had begun releasing books and before I had begun this whirlwind of words that my life had become. My dad wrapped his arms around my mom and consoled her while she cried over how much she missed me.
Then I saw my childhood best friend, a girl who I have held in high regard for my entire life as she raised her daughters. Her husband sat down at their dinner table and in his hand was something familiar. It was a copy of a book I intend on releasing soon. I saw the cover and the title pages, I saw the way he looked with it in his hands, excited to share a story with his wife. When she slapped the book out of his hands and told him to never bring one of my books into their home again. That I was not welcome there, any part of me.
In this dream I sat up from my bed, staring at the sky, fourteen of the fifteen images rained down on me as the final cloud billowed above me. Through the illuminated rumble of thunder I watched every relationship I have been in, and that I had potentially wanted to get in unfold. Each one of them ended the same, she was heartbroken because I couldn’t give enough of myself to her. Every single one of the women walked out of my life and I found myself purchasing a studio apartment to live in and to write in. There I tore through another handful of books.
As I watched this vision quest unfold in my dream, I felt my phone ringing, each time checking it with high hopes that it was one of my old friends, or a woman I used to love, or someone that I missed terribly, each time instead… it was my publicist.
She told me that I had missed a bunch of meetings and I was getting cut from my contract. I had gone off the radar for weeks and my career had shut down in front of me.
It was only then that I realized, in my dream and in real life that those scenes unfolding weren’t telling of the past. It was a projection sent to me as time passed alongside me. I had removed myself from the world around me because the only thing I could really focus on were my books.
I woke up from my dream then, panicked, breathing heavily, with tears on my cheeks.
I so often put people into boxes that I then use to organize in my closet. Each memory and story attached to them one fragmented piece of a large cardboard crafter mural. I hide in there when I am afraid of the world and I run from there when I am afraid of them.
I haven’t shared this dream with anyone yet, not even my mother. I couldn’t find the right way to explain it. It was frustrating and deeply saddening to watch myself spiral down and I don’t know what happened to that version of me.
I don’t want to know what happened.
I watched 15 clouds roll past me in my sleep and it gave me answers.
Answers to questions I have been asking for years.
What happens when…?
What if I don’t…?
What if I end up alone?
So many questions about my future and my path are whirling around in my head all the time. It can be so hard to focus some days, but that dream brought me to a conclusion.
I had recently written up a “five year plan” which was more like a twenty year plan to schedule book releases and craft the idea that I have my shit together. (Which, I really do not.)
This plan was going to drain the life out of me and I was so terrified of that happening. I knew that if I followed the writing and the projects to the letters that I wrote them in, at the end of the day it would spell out my own loneliness.
This post isn’t to say that I am going to stop writing, or that I will even slow down. I still intend on doing amazing things with this work, but there is something more important than those amazing things.
My projects don’t take my soul. They will not.
While they are maddeningly important to me, and I will give them all of me all of the time, I need to always remember that I have so many people around who matter so much to me. Even when they act like dick heads. Even when I do. When they ask me a million stupid questions, it’s because they want to know how I am doing. When they call in the middle of my work to ask to spend time with me, it’s because I haven’t been around enough. I can’t be mad at that.
There are so many clearly defined lines in our lives, that while being defined, are constantly moving. The best life is one in which we can nestle between those lines and let them bounce off of our borders, when we can be organized and still spend time with friends. When we can work our fingers to the bone on a passion and still see our parents. When we can allow ourselves forty minutes to do something that isn’t “work” because we need to remember, as artists, as creative men and women, that we will always need our loved ones.
They drive us to do what we do.
To play instruments.
To build buildings.
To furnish homes.
To cut grass.
To work on cars.
To work on space shuttles.
To fly airplanes.
To be gymnasts.
To be sportsmen.
To stand up and look at the blank canvas of our futures…
We could not do these things without our friends and our loved ones. We could not and I would never dream of giving up that love just for the sake of writing books.
I often say that I would be okay in life if I could have a way to write and time to do so, I can be in any position otherwise. I think that is only half true. Writing is such a big part of me, but I could do well to paint too. I could do well to sit down at a table with my best friends and my parents and those that I love and simply be thankful for living another day. I take that for granted, how easy it is to paint with words, that is. I sit down with my friends and family and I watch the sun fall below the mountains casting a brilliant red light onto the clouds above me and I think to myself.
There is no better easel.
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