Hi bonjour – welcome back.
Despite sporadic blogging habits, the rest of my offline writing life is progressing well.
- I continue to be reading books, including ones that have sat waiting on my reading list for many years and I am also listening to audio-books too (for when I prefer to just hide away under the covers in bed). Currently listening to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and also listening to the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.
- I continue to work away at my various stories, though to be honest, less of this is writing and more of it is cleaning and sorting my notes – the mass of jumbled ideas, germs and inklings. Currently, working at my children’s novel series on Animals.
- I continue to try at keeping myself grounded and present because I find this practice essential for a healthier state of mind necessary to keep making art. Currently, I’m realizing again how important it is to pay attention to the details of my life, to repeatedly will myself to shake off the clouds that would otherwise leave me living in a hazy fog of repetition and boredom and dissatisfaction.
I have also been pleasantly surprised with my growing habit of free writing in recent weeks, filling 3 whole pages by hand in a messy brain purge, doing so more and more consistently each day. Some entries are only meh – it meets the minimum requirement but I don’t find myself any different afterwards. Other entries, however, have me really spinning, scratching my chin thoughtfully as I stare in blank expression at the wall or out some window as I try to fully reap the levity of what I have just revealed to myself.
One such free write journal entry had me beginning with simple to-do chores on my mind that day, writing them down just to get them out of the way. I proceeded onward from there and soon enough I found myself writing about people in my life – past and present – whose lives took unexpected turns for them. Surely this could be said about anyone and everyone, but I was thinking of people who I knew that had set out with a goal and a dream but after some time was left empty-handed, scarred and bitter. They had met failure, plain and simple, and there was nothing fair or pleasant about it.
I found myself wanting to make excuses for them, for the series of events, to explain how it wasn’t a failure or a defeat if they learned from it, or if things worked out better because of it later on… That may be true, or it may not be, but I was curious why I was so quick to pass over this point, this uncomfortable truth that sometimes we just fail.
Surely, my hesitation and unease would tie back to me, my story, my struggles and my plights, as we humans tend to do. But I was right – I had in my own life experienced some serious setbacks, things that I had set out to accomplish but failed to do, maybe because of just sheer incompetence or perhaps because I lost enthusiasm for it along the way…
I don’t mean things like failing to become an astronaut “when you grow up”, or losing a best-friend status relationship with someone – unless either were meaningful?.
Things that can still touch an extra sensitive nerve like when talked of in conversation (like, “hey archie, did you ever get around to …? what happened to your …?”).
And I mean things that end up fueling other insecurities in your life through indirect, seemingly random relationships (like, because you never visited your dream destination, you have developed a weird knack of becoming an ass whenever you are travelling somewhere else).
I can share 2 of such “failures” in my own life and both fairly recent actually. Let me get vulnerable here and share what I am still working through in my current stage as a human being.
- Becoming a writer and not a lawyer.
I completed a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, both in Criminology, intent upon a career in law that would have me helping people in need. I spent a lot of money on university tuition (that I am still paying back!), and more importantly, spent about 6 full years working hard to achieve.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to use my privileges of education and income status to be trained in a career that would help immigrants, political prisoners, peoples with mental illness, drug addictions, animals and the natural world.
… But that never happened.
I got sick of law, plain and simple.
I grew to resent the elitism of courthouses, the full corruption of police and prisons, the general rotten system of government judiciary, legislative and executive.
I didn’t even try for the bar exam – I had resigned from the challenge before I ever even began studying – before I even dared to try.
Part of me thinks it was laziness and simple privilege that pushed me in this direction, opting to not try for a “better” career in law because it seemed too daunting. Or am I being too hard on myself?
Maybe I could listen to another part of me which sees it as an obvious choice to leave that career path and pursue writing full-time. Like, why hesitate to abandon what I now found boring and unfulfilling? Everyone has the right to pursue things in life that make us wake up and feel excited again, because what else is life about?
- Leaving behind old “hobbies”.
Maybe this is something all us people struggle with, but for most of my life, I only ever believed in things that I really really believed in.
Like, if I wasn’t about to make a stink about it to everyone and anyone, then I didn’t believe in or care about it. In other words, I tend to go through stages in life where I spend my time doing very different things…
Okay, take social justice activism for example – even in primary school, I found myself interested in the topics of human rights. This stayed about the same in high school. But upon entering into university life, with all the comfort-zone-bubble-popping everyone should experience, I was drawn towards campus activities that promoted the same values and ideas I was receiving my education to practice later in life, you know, as a “real-life adult”.
During my time as a graduate student, I spent at least half my waking time devoted to community organizing, event planning, social media outreach and fundraising for various social justice campaigns.
But then I stopped.
I moved from my community, for one, and living out on the West Coast, I felt distinctly unfamiliar with the needs and groups already living and organizing there to help themselves resist discrimination, violence and oppression.
I not only felt overwhelmed trying to lay down whole new roots but new feelings of alienation and frustration had me doubting the sincerity of my intentions, doubting my ability to help save the world from itself, and doubting the legitimacy in my own point of view. I worried over whether my good intentions were more to comfort my own guilt than to actually change something outside myself, or whether my moral code was not just a pretence for wanting to be seen as not part of the problem.
Once again, part of me thinks it was laziness and simple privilege that had me withdraw from my communities trying to bring more justice into our society – that I could just check-out from the struggle whenever I wanted to and pretend I wasn’t abandoning a responsibility.
I also have begun to re-evaluate this transformation as one of maturity, where my past forms of activism (involving attributes of determination, courage and community in my honest opinion) have become new forms of activism (involving more personal self-growth and commitment to an artistic expression of ideas).
And that seems true to me, which like # 1, it is really about recognizing when you need to live a different life. Or, as the wise Nina once said:
So while both above are sore spots for me, I am continuing to adjust and begin anew.
I failed at both, and I can say that without hesitation…
But maybe that is okay.
I can say is that I am wrestling with these versions of myself and of people in my life who have failed, who have failed terrifically even when due to little of their own fault.
I am wrestling not just with acknowledging this so that I can gloss over it with some terrible advice like “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger”, but with the possibility of getting comfortable with these uncomfortable moments.
No – trying to “accept” something unfortunate, unfair, unexplained, only so that I can try to re-brand it as a pep-talk for whoever will listen just seems very phoney to me. Sort of like all those awful romantic comedies where Character One only likes Character Two because of their future potential, for who they can become, or in other words, for expressly who they are not right now.
Sure, there are likely always a hundred silver-linings, greener grasses, glasses half full and other ways to switch up how you are seeing something.
Those can be instructive, sometimes.
Yea, sometimes we all need a fucking feel-good story to help us stop crying, even if only on the inside.
Or maybe sometimes there is no real lesson for any experience?
Maybe it is just some shit that happened.
It can seem scary to think about life being that way, so random and indifferent to us.
Making up patterns to explain-away the chaos doesn’t really change anything, nor does it give you any more control over failing at something important to you.
Sometimes life, living, is what it is – compromises, confusing, curious.
Thanks for reading.