Writers (and red-headed Leos) often have one last thing to say, so even though I thought my previous post would be the last one of the year, I guess have one more in me, so here goes.
I’ve been struggling with something that has been bugging me for some time. What is it?
Basically, I’ve felt really lost as to the ultimate purpose for my writing. We live in a society that is very goal oriented. We like to map things out, have something to work towards, and we especially like to place success as something outside of ourselves. I’ve struggled with this. Because the truth is that I’m simply not motivated by money or the idea of fame. This might sound hard to believe, or bizarre, or ridiculous, but it’s true. Would I like my picture on the cover of the LA Times, or for my book to sell tons of copies. Of course! Who wouldn’t? But, ultimately, that’s not why I do what I do.
These thoughts have been spinning around in my head as I continue to (somewhat) promote my first book of poems, as well as put the finishing touches on my second poetry collection (which includes some 90 new verses), and put the final edits on the first draft of a novel I began a few years ago.
If I’m not really motivated by money or fame, then why on earth am I bothering to go to all the effort to put all this out there? Why spend the time writing, editing and publishing these projects if traditional modes of success don’t match what’s truly important to me?
I had a moment of clarity early this afternoon after spending much of today and yesterday in the garden. I should back track to say that as much as I adore being in the garden, I’ve sort of neglected my own yard for the past few months. Why? If the garden is such a source of peace, joy and inspiration for me, why on earth would I deny myself such pleasure?
I think that I’ve been so preoccupied with anticipating and projecting what ‘all of this means’ in terms of how to define ‘success’ that I’ve been missing the thing that has literally been staring at me the entire time. What is it?
It’s the understanding that none of it really matters unless you have something in your life that you love doing.
The hours I spent in the garden were so blissful that I totally forgot about anything else. A true communion occurs when I’m with the plants, a connection to something ancient, and to something so much greater than myself. I wasn’t worrying if I should send my book to another magazine editor, or how many hits my blog gets. It was just me – anonymously – in the garden. Hair messy, clothes completely covered in dirt, and completely happy. No amount of money or outward recognition can take the place of that.
At its core, I also feel this way about writing. And the true reason why I share my writing, besides the fact that I love doing it, is the hope that somehow something I’ve written can positively touch someone else. It sounds idealistic and simple, but it’s true.
So, in reflecting on this year, what I’m really thinking about most, is connecting with my two passions, gardening and writing, just for the pure pleasure they evoke inside of me. Not for a blog post, not for a Facebook photo, not for the current or next book that may or may not ever ‘hit it big.’ Just for me.
And my wish and hope for anyone reading this is that regardless of outward success, you find and do whatever it is that brings you true joy, which usually happens anonymously, when no one else is looking. It’s the swimmer in the water, it’s the painter with his brushes, it’s the dancer putting on her well-worn shoes and it’s the baker gathering her wares.
I don’t know how all of this will translate in 2012, but I am so grateful have spent some precious hours in the sun and in the soil, remembering what is truly important. I’ll be using that as a guide as the new year brings unknown blessings, and opportunities; things I may miss if I’m too busy looking in the wrong place.