Writing, as is reading, is one of the best remedies I have found accurate to the perils of human frailty. If there is any evidence for anyone whom the two magical twins, writing and reading, have impacted immensely, it is me. I see the light every day I am reading or writing. I crawl out of the darkness. Being a reader, especially a voracious one, is one of the greatest things I have ever given to myself, entwined with one;writing. One raw fact is, if you don’t read, you can’t write: there is no in-between. Walter Kirn put it better, couldn’t agree more with this: “a writer who isn’t writing is asking for trouble.”
I am a stubborn person at times; I don’t “fight small wars” or react [see; respond] to things that are so small, in most of the social media expletives and blogs I have written through the years (even in real life). If one thing, above the all motivates me, it is “the pride in me”. Yes, pride is a motivator, as is written: Prove people wrong. They say it can’t be done? Do it. They tell you it is a waste of time? Waste away. Never let anyone define for you how to be, how to use your time, or what you or anyone is capable of. Turn the naysayer into a competitive guidepost, recasting every doubting Thomas into a secret twisted cheerleader. However, be careful not to cop out into spite: don’t center on them, they are just ammunition. Take their judgment, harness it into your next pride, and ride them past the fools over the hills, and towards a dream. When I thought writing this piece, I told myself one thing, I was going to commit the writer’s chief sin: recommend it as my “baby”for my readers—read on.
The world needs men and women of courage, resilient souls; grace-filled brothers and sisters: a universe of personhood and human decency. Sometimes the most disturbing question isn’t whether I am doing enough to please the world but rather, whether I am doing extra-ordinary things. At times, the extra ordinary isn’t about doing much, it is doing a little but with a purpose of lightening someone’s burden, and in the end that is what is reflected unto the world. Save for the present-day social media melodrama, where “idiots” are making a “change”. In a world where there is hopelessness, the extra-ordinary is giving someone a glimmer of hope—that tomorrow, no matter how blurry it is today, is going to be better. In a world of lack, providence is the real hero. That is extra ordinary stuff, don’t look any further.
I have been building a brand for some years now, as a writer: I now have a second reputation, writer; poet and essayist. One raw fact, it is a rugged path I have travelled [still travelling]. Do I at times look at my own report card? Yes, I do that all the time. I keep tracking my growth as a writer, not just on the audience or readership I have, which is evidently there in large numbers here, but rather; how effectively do I put my thoughts across?
I was reading a fine piece on publishing and found something I wish I had written. Scott hit it outta the park, he writes: “your reasons for writing should transcend fame and wealth as neither are likely from writing alone. Most books you read have been written by writers who pay rent through other means. If you want fame and wealth from writing, be committed to the long term. This takes the pressure of each book, and you will open to learning instead of foolishly trying to hit a grand slam on the first try”. Those are very fine words from a very articulate article, one of the beautiful things I have read on writing lately. As I type this, I am listening in to this song by Tricia Brock, “What I know”, and to what I just wrote above, these words from the song couldn’t go unnoticed: “to hope that keeps saying, carry on.”
Edward Deci, one of the leading researchers on human motivation, says in his classic book, Why We Do What We Do (see Notes): “the researchers found out that if any of the three extrinsic aspirations—for money, fame, or beauty—was very high for an individual relative to three intrinsic aspirations, the individual was more likely to display a poorer mental health. For example, having an unusually strong aspiration was associated with narcissism, anxiety, depression, and a poorer social functioning as rated by a trained clinical psychologist.
In contrast, strong aspirations for any of the intrinsic goals—meaningful relationships, personal growth, and community contributions—were positively associated with well being. People who strongly desired to contribute to their community, for example, had more vitality and higher self-esteem. When people organize their behavior in terms of intrinsic strivings (relative to extrinsic strivings) they seem content—they feel better about who they are and display more of psychological health.”
In Behold Humanity, the truth isn’t far too removed from the raw facts; it’s beautifully written that only a fool would ignore those stellar words of inference. As is written, “Pain and pleasure are not twins or mirror images of each other, at least not as far as their roles in leveraging survival. Somehow, more often than not, it is the pain related signal that steers us away from the impending trouble, both at the moment and in the anticipated future. It is difficult to imagine that individuals and societies governed by the seeking of pleasure, as much or more than the avoidance of pain, can survive at all.”
I am not going to sugarcoat nothing, there are people you don’t need in life (see Becky); people that want to always want to hear the bad news about you, people that instead of empowering you drain you to the bone, even if they have potential or are “rich” and “famous”. These people you don’t need them, they are blood sucking parasites, if all they do is suck it out of you. Society should be and must be about people empowering people, without strings attached. But here is the truth, it has sunk so low that instead of empowerment, it is now about individual rise—someone will just use you to rise, after that you are done. It is not over for you though, there is one raw fact, and no one has ever been noticed that wasn’t doing something they wanted to be recognized for: you have got to get down and do your thing. For me, I have to keep writing.
A lot of beautiful stuff has been written on how to be your own boss and none is removed from ‘getting help if you need it’. I read something from Adam Grant in the New York Times article I ‘eloped with’ a week ago about networking, and I must say, I would buy him a cup of a coffee for writing very real things in my personal life, he writes: “it’s true that networking can help you accomplish great things. But this obscures the opposite truth: Accomplishing great things helps you develop a network”.
The Mathew effect, as Adam Grant writes, ‘from the bible, “For unto every one that hath given, and he shall have abundance”. If you establish a track record of achievements, advantages tend to accumulate. Who you will know tomorrow depends on what you contributed yesterday. Yes, that’s what, as I earlier wrote, the sun shines for everyone.
To write is to commit, to both reading and writing itself—failing at writing is because you are not writing. The magic is, “more than anything, writing is a kind of work. Even if you love it, even if you are brilliant, even if you have amazing ideas, it will require many hours of effort to finish writing an essay or book. You will be giving up other activities to create that time. This trade may simply not be worth it to you. This is fine, as you might realize the problem is simply you like the idea of writing far more than the reality of how much time and effort is required”
In life, once you do/write something inspirational, you may not know who you are empowering but one thing is for certain, a life is being changed somewhere. Personally, most of the cognitive restructuring I have had in my life is centered on one thing, above the all—the power of “yet”—one of the best ways to keep your mind open to new possibilities is to harness the power of “yet”. “Yet” is a very productive and healthy word to add to a sentence when you are describing something that hasn’t happened to you. For example, instead of saying “I haven’t achieved my goal,” you can say “I haven’t achieved my goal yet.” This keeps you honest with the fact that you haven’t achieved something, but that doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it in the future. The past doesn’t dictate the future—and reminding yourself of that can keep you empowered and motivated during tough times.
The dark side of positive thinking offers to humanity wisdom that is very profound—‘we as humans are dream beings. We can accomplish many dreams in a lifetime, but we won’t be able to achieve them all. More important than the life goals we accomplish before we reach the grave is how we are living right now. With some consciousness and a sense of humor, we can embrace the wholeness of our being and live a life with a soul. Beyond our “concepts” of positive and “negative, there is the beauty, the mystery and the magic of our true being, deserving to be honored and celebrated. It is available for each of us in this very moment’—thoughts and words without deeds will accomplish nothing, which is why I keep writing: the end is not certain, but it is a work in progress.
In all honesty, writing is a lonely occupation at best. Of course there are stimulating and even happy associations with friends and colleagues, but during the actual work of creation, the writer cuts himself from all others and confronts his subject alone. He moves into a realm where he has never been before—perhaps where no one has ever been. It is a lonely place, even a little frightening—thing is; if you write what you yourself sincerely think and fee and are interested in, you will interest other people.
We live in a very frail point in time; more people are more concerned about being famous than they are about doing what is right—even if fame isn’t the end goal. It is very important to note though—you will never be famous—and that’s okay; ‘the most beautiful lives, I have learned are not often the extraordinary ones. They are the ordinary ones lived with dignity.’