Day 17 - You are Your Own Target
When I think ahead to the end of these 93 days, I think about how I want to feel more than what I want to be doing. If I knew what I wanted to be doing, frankly, I’d be doing it. My not-so-secret reason for setting this whole Metamorphize or Die program up was because I was in a rut and I didn’t know how to get out.
Maybe rut is the wrong word. It wasn’t that I was in a hole---it was that my energy felt flat and I wasn’t reallyexcited about anything. I love having goals and I didn’t have one I cared a lot about, so I made one up—go for 93 days doing somethingso at the end I could feel the way I wanted to feel: light, challenged, strong, alive, slightly out of my comfort zone, supported, supportive, productive.
You’ll notice I didn’t say happy.
I like to feel well-utilized and loved. I like to feel I’m using all that I am to engage in whatever it is I’m doing and that it is for the benefit of at least one other person. There are books written about the flow state, and that’s what I’m talking about. My favorite feeling is when I’m not aware of my self as separate from everything else. The best feeling is when everything is one and I’m part of it. It’s happening right now—I’m thinking about how to get an idea out and I’m trying to connect a bunch of dots in my head so I can say something that will keep me engaged as I continue to write. I have no idea what I’m going to say in the next paragraph. If I did, I’d probably stop writing out of sheer boredom.
Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” I write to have a second chance at my life. I generally have so much chatter in my head that I miss much of what happened. Writing lets me go back and consider things more carefully. It gives me a do-over.
I have spent so much of my life trying to be busy, for busyness was next to holiness in my family when I was growing up. There was always something else to do, some other box to check, another list to make, another accomplishment to achieve.
What I have discovered as I let myself follow my body’s natural rhythms and desires is that probably in a recent past life I was a rock or a mountain. I like just to be there, unmoving. This is coming from someone who started running at the age of 12. I thought movement was what would make me worthy, and while movement is good, and running is good, balance of movement and rest is also good, but what I learned from observing my mother was the way you got to finally rest was to get sick. Then no one would call you lazy. You were resting because you had a fever.
Granted, I do like to move. I do like to walk for hours. I do love being in a physical body that engages in the world, but, good lord, I also do like just hanging out. I love quiet. I love staring out the window and looking out at the trees. William Gass wrote, “Leaves move in the windows. I cannot tell you yet how beautiful it is, what it means. But they do move. They move in the glass.”
The most radical thing I could do in 93 days would be to feel fully myself in body and mind. I hired a tech person yesterday to help me with social media. I am working on branding myself—it sounds painful, but it’s actually really fun. I’ve been dancing around the edges of claiming space in the working world since writing You Don’t Look Adopted, but the fact is that if I want to get a place of my own, I have to start making more money, and that means I have to get some hustle going, more than what I have now. I have to own my desire to be the best writing and dream coach out there and I have to be willing to work my ass off to get there.
When I was in graduate school, the editor Ted Solotaroff came and talked to us about his essay, Writing in the Cold (https://www.scribd.com/doc/187849968/Writing-in-the-Cold). In it, he wrote about how when he had graduated from college, he’d expected to work as a writer for ten years with little to no reward, but how he’d noticed that current students expected immediate payback for their hard work.
I didn’t grow up thinking it was right to work for years and years and get little to no success and for that reason, I didn’t make it as a writer when I graduated with my M.F.A. because—wait for it—I didn’t write. I talked about writing, sure. I dreamed about being a writer, you bet. But write for ten years and not make any money? Couldn’t do it.
Until I did. I started writing in earnest when Antonia Bogdanovich and I paired up and started working on the screenplay for The Rabbit Will Die. It’s in development now. Guess how many years ago we started? Yup. Just about ten.
I love the idea that you can work really hard at something for a very long time and not have to be successful at it or make an income doing it. I love the dedication to craft more even that the success one can get if the planets align and an agent comes into the room, hands you some papers, shakes your hand, and gives you a big fat check. Granted, the check and handshake part are amazing, but knowing you dedicated your whole being to something you love is even, to me, more amazing.
I am dedicating my whole being to this 93-day project. I had set out to eat well so that my body and mind felt strong and to engage in the world in a way that made me feel fully present in my life. I made the whole thing public because I love collaboration. Why do this alone if I can bring others with me?
The other day I felt sad in the late afternoon because I was tired and hungry, and I just wanted to be able to stop at the local pizza place and get a slice and a beer. Here’s the thing: I was able, but I wanted to feel good in the morning, not bloated and headachey, so I went and got salmon instead and felt good all night long. At the time, though, I was thinking, Oh my god. When is this going to end so I can go back to normal?I worried I had set the bar too high and I was trying to live in a way that was too structured and rule-based, but then I thought about how I’ve been feeling these past two weeks: think euphoric, and I realized it wasn’t about setting the bar too high, it was more about pulling the curtains back on my true self.
It wasn’t that I was going to have to work really hard to maintain an artificially high set of standards, it was that I was stripping away everything that wasn’t feeding my truest self, and what was being left behind was ease.
Change is tricky. It can feel hard when really, in a few weeks when new behaviors have become habitual, I’m guessing I’ll see that my life is easier because I don’t have to deal with a distended pizza abdomen and a foggy brain. I’ll have addressed the things I was using to numb out difficult emotions. I’ll have challenged myself to go out into the world and live the biggest life I could create.
The other day I was listening to Oprah interview Amy Schumer, and at one point Amy was talking about how generally she feels good about herself, but then she just had to say that of course there were days she didn’t feel that way. Why? Why did she have to say that? I’ll tell you what I think: I think we are afraid to just love ourselves and to not have any issues. We want to cut ourselves down first before others do it for us.
I am so tired of this stuff.
Why can’t we get over this I’m not good enough or rich enough or thin enough or smart enough? It’s all such a waste of time. I mean, really. And yes, I’m talking to myself.
What if we just said, Okay, fuck it. This is it. This is me. It’s never going to get any better than this, so I must be perfect right now.Then we could get on with it. Then we could take these bodies and minds and souls out for a spin to see what they could do, no shame, only curiousity and love.
That’s how I want to feel at the end of these 93 days.
I could just feel that now and be done with it. (Except I have so much I want to learn and do, and I committed to 93 days.)
See you tomorrow.