It’s been a few weeks since I wrote an honest-to-goodness blog post. I write nearly everyday, in my journal and elsewhere, but nothing (in my biased opinion) worth publishing. As days went on, I moved from mild concern, to severely distressed, to feeling like my hair is on fire. “What if I’ll never write again?” “What if my passion and wish to be a writer fizzled out even before it fully ignited?” “Oh, no! Here’s another thing I’m going to fail at!” Yes, as time passed on and I didn’t write anything that I wanted to post, my inner judge came out to play emotional terrorism with me. He berated me and called me names, all in the pretext of motivating me into action. It felt like a self-fulfilling prophesy. “I always knew you didn’t have it in you to even write and maintain a simple blog,” I heard my inner abuser tell me. I won’t lie. I had a few exchanges with friends about my writing, which left little negative marks and sparked the original discouragement, which led to a full-fledged writer’s block of multiple months. What was said is unimportant. But the effects have been hugely important and emotionally stressing. Until a few days ago.
One day, while I was internally lamenting my lack of ambition and dedication to my craft (or at least the craft I’d like to make mine), I realized something huge. I was referring to my dry spell as a “writer’s block”. And that is an apt name for what I’ve been experiencing. But, it’s also a very telling characterization of what’s been happening. Implicit in the phrase “writer’s block” is the fact that I see myself as a writer. And, despite the block, a writer must write. So then not all was lost, I realized. Because as long as I have the drive, the passion and as long as I see myself as a writer, I can begin to write again whenever I want. And just like that, the clouds parted, I felt motivated and my inner judge packed his bags and got the hell out of my head, leaving room for a renewed creative insurgency.
So, I hereby end my hiatus and begin again to search, to question, to observe and to create, damned the critics and their snide remarks and to hell with that mean inner judge of mine and his fat mouth! And, as a way to celebrate the end of the dry spell and to honor the experience of the last few weeks, I want to share the lessons I’ve learned while I took a hiatus from blogging. These are the AHA! moments I’ve experienced in the recent weeks, and the wisdom that has made my life fuller and more meaningful.
1. Sooner or later everyone disappoints you, so get used to it. When disappointment does come, one of two scenarios unfold. Either the relationship is strong enough to absorb the shock and grow and flourish despite the setback, or it is left unattended and ignored until it fades and shrinks away. The single determining factor as to what happens next is whether both sides care enough to continue growing, evolving and relating to each other. Unless both people sincerely want to work things out, no relationship is strong enough to survive. It’s either a two-way street or a dead-end. It maybe sad to admit this, but so critical to a happy and healthy life of strong and valuable relationships.
2. In order to live happily, completely and be emotionally fulfilled, we must, must, MUST learn to come home to ourselves. We must feel an inner sense of calmness, acceptance and love toward ourselves. No amount of external encouragement, praise, approval, attention, affection and effort by others in our lives will ever take the place of what we can give to ourselves. I’ve learned that it is a huge mistake to look to anyone other myself for approval or validation. I’ve learned that my self-worth cannot be attached to external things or people. It all starts and ends with and in me. All else, all the attention, affection, acceptance and approval, while great and good, is simply secondary. None of us will ever achieve true inner peace until we get this and live by it every single day.
3. Life’s full of distractions. Ignore as many of them as often as possible. On any given moment of the day, there are emails piling up in different email accounts, texts to read and send, Facebook updates to check, Instagram photos to like, and all the other big and small static noise the modern world has brought into our lives. At least that’s how my life is these days. I’ve found that I easily lose myself in these distractions and mistakenly tie them to how I feel about myself and the way my life’s going. A good day can be had simply by having many friends commenting on the latest photo I posted on Facebook. I feel happy on days I receive many texts and emails from friends and loved ones, while quiet days could seem boring, blah or just plain bad. All because I didn’t receive as much technological background noise as I wish I had. All this makes me long for days of recent past when interactions meant actually talking to someone on the phone or, better yet, seeing them in person. In those days, a day without multiple sources of constant interaction did not signal that my life sucked. It just meant that the day was a quiet one and that I had time to better focus on work, reading, writing, my errands and the physical experience of living my life. So, I’ve learned to limit my virtual entanglements, reduce unproductive distractions, and focus on actual interactions. An email notification will no longer distract me while I’m busy with something as lovely as drawing or writing, or catching up with my husband at the end of the day. And if you wanna be in touch with me, great! Let’s make plans to meet face-to-face and for real.
4. Creativity is creativity- no rules are needed or applicable. When I’m not blogging, I am often busy with journaling, drawing, collaging, photography, or simply exploring the hidden gems of the City of Angels. And all of that is beautiful and wonderful. And I should stop stressing about the number of blog posts per week, or whether I missed a deadline I set for myself. I should also stop caring about how many people like a photograph I took and posted on Instagram or Facebook. I create art for me. I enjoy photography, I love writing and I love weaving stories and vignettes on daily basis. And that is what should matter most. Approval, praise and adulation of one’s art and work are surely fantastic, but not necessary to the creative process. If I am driven to be creative, that within itself is my reward. No other motivation is necessary.
5. Happiness- true, beautiful and utter happiness is possible, even when life is hard, stressful, sad, unpredictable and imperfect. Show me a life that’s prefect, and I’ll show you someone who’s projecting dishonesty. Life is NEVER everything we want. There are always pitfalls, setbacks, disappointments, frustrations and difficulties. Our solemn duty to ourselves is to fit as much happiness and joy into our imperfect and frustrating lives as we can. The time to be happy is now. Be happy despite whatever is hard or bad or problematic. It is possible.
6. Setback are not only expected, they should be welcomed. I often seem to learn important lessons over and over again, until they settle into every fiber of my being. When I see this happening to me repeatedly, I get very frustrated with myself. “What’s wrong with you??” I snap at myself, “why don’t you ever learn?” But, I’ve finally reached the conclusion that gaining wisdom is not task on a to-do list. It’s more of an evolving, ever unfolding and incremental journey. And there are some lessons that must be visited and revisited over and over before they become part of us.
7. The idea of a “best friend” is overrated. It’s also, in many circumstances, simply an unachievable mirage. I’ve finally reached a point where I’ve accepted that we cannot expect a single person to be the best in all circumstances and situations. And I’ve learned to stop seeking to label the people in my life. Different people connect at different times in life, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Having said that…
8. My best friend is ME. I am the only person who truly knows my life story and the path I am on. I am the only one who really knows how strong I am, what makes me tick, what I need to hear when I’m sad and what I need in order to find happiness and fulfillment. So, my best friend, the one who wipes away the tears, the giver of the best pep talks, my fairy godmother and the president of my fan club is me. And that’s how it should be.
I’m so happy to have taken a few hours today to work on my blog. If it resonates with anyone else, I’ll be happy. But, what’s essential to me is that I took the first step, battled my way through my glorious writer’s block and came back a little wiser and more illuminated. All else is gravy.