Everywhere I go these days, people are driving around like maniacs. They have to get somewhere faster than anyone else, even if it’s only two seconds faster. They cut in front of others, weave between lanes, and generally show their total impatience. Everything has to be now, now, NOW!
Kind of like finding a pot of gold beneath the rainbow … if I saw one, I’d sure run that way checking over my shoulder to make sure no one was following. I’d want it RIGHT NOW!
Problem is … life doesn’t work that way. There is no rainbow to carry us to the pot of gold, no happy sunny laid out trail for us to follow. No. We have to scramble through the brambles, clear a path, fight off evil villains and occasionally just some annoying ones, take our licks, and lick our wounds, and hopefully, if we are very very very very lucky … find a friend or two who’ll do it with us.
And after all of that, we still may not find that pot of gold.
I’ve lived a charmed life. I had parents who’ve been married for 54 years, a loving extended family who always support one another, good schools, amazing adventures and travels, fabulous jobs in some big locals around the world, great friends that are still with me 40 something years later, and a new focus in life that makes me happier than I’ve ever been. Sounds kind of like walking on a rainbow to find that pot of gold, huh?
Or maybe those things are my pot of gold.
I tell you, even though I’ve had some wondrous and amazing experiences in my life, I’ve also had some horrifying ones. And those horrifying ones are the ones that have left me clawing at the earth, dragging myself along, scratched, bitten, covered in scars and wounds that never seem to heal, huddled in a corner in a little ball. Experiences that have left me with post traumatic stress disorder, that make me suspicious of even the most innocent, that have left me a hurting cowardly shell of a human at times. Mostly, I’m better than that … but not always.
The thing is I’ve let those bad experiences outweigh the good ones.
Someone this week told me they didn’t know whether to be happy or upset with me but they’d decided to be happy. And I thought, wow, what a choice. I’m not sure I would have made the same one facing the same circumstances. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough.
I’m not sure I am brave enough.
Sometimes it’s so much easier to just let the bad beat us up, tear us down, wreck our lives, destroy the road and then try to zoom past everything so nothing else bad happens, instead of taking the time to make choices and live better. To be brave and say I’m going to be happy.
I realized today that I’ve been making choices out of fear … fear that someone might walk away, fear that I’d never be good enough, fear that no one would like me or need me, fear that I’ll never be skinny enough or tall enough or talented enough. Fear that someone I love may die. Fear.
And I don’t want to be afraid any more.
Writing is like that. So many writers I meet plot and plan and proceed along a structured path to create a work of fiction. Some of them are good … but most are … okay. They are like rainbows with a pot of gold at the end.
But the great books, they’re like my life. Emotional, ragged, … alive. I heard David Morrell speak one time and he said to make your writing great you needed to be able to harness those things that made you feel something, that took you to extremes, and put that on the page. You needed to take your greatest fears and spread them on the paper for the world to see … and then, then you’d be started down the right path.
Writing is a scary world. It’s cutthroat, dog eat dog, every man for himself. For every writer who finds an agent, 500 others don’t. For every book that is published, there’s thousands that aren’t. Writing isn’t for the faint of heart or for the ones that think they can zoom to the head of the line.
It takes work, clawing through the dirt, scraping skin from bones, bleeding hopelessly, and crying in the dark when no one else is around.
For me, that is my pot of gold. Writing is the one thing that makes me happy.