"My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet." ~ Gandhi
Just Go With It
"My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet." ~ Gandhi I apologize for the long silence. I realize I’ve fallen a bit behind with my memoir in motion. I have been writing—heaps in fact—I just haven’t liked any of it, so I’ve been staring at it hatefully for about two weeks.
The truth is—I’m having an incredibly hard time focusing by this pool, over-looking Auckland harbor. All of my senses prickle with pleasure. Sailboats dot the horizon. Someone in the nearby vicinity just fired up a barbie. Neighbor kids squeal with glee and jump in a pool. I’ve got the Dylan/Cash Sessions playing in the background as I sip a delicious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A random drum circle gains momentum on the beach in the distance. Butterflies and birds intertwine in their gravity-less flight. Things are currently, absolutely, delightfully…perfect. It’s peaceful, quiet and undisturbed. You would think it would be easy for me to sit down and write.
But this seems to be exactly the problem.
At the moment--due to a twist of fate, a gut instinct and reasons that will probably always baffle me--I have absolutely nothing to worry about. Not where I’m going to sleep tomorrow night. Not how I’m going to hustle the next dollar. Not even what I’m going to eat. All I have to do, for the first time in my whole damn life—is focus on writing.
Yet facing this very cosmic circumstance I’ve chased like the dragon, I’m drawing a big, fat, giant blank.
I remember a time—years ago in the face of bankruptcy, divorce and a series of other cumulative failures catching up with me—when I would pray for this very situation I find myself in on a pretty daily basis.
Please universe. Rescue me. Send me a fucking lifeline. Send me a way out of this debt. Send me a writing job so I don’t have to get pulled away from the computer. Ever. Send me a break. Send me some relief. Anything.
And it did. But just like Mick Jagger predicted, it was small miracles I really needed. Not the big miracle I wanted. Not the sale of my script. Not a television deal. Not a winning lotto ticket. Not an agent who believes in me. Not even a Greek shipping billionaire falling in love with me and wanting to support my every creative endeavor. Is that really too much to ask?
So, I get used to continually rescuing myself. I’m a scrapper. A fighter. Mighty Mouse. I listen to a lot of Eminem (“When I say I’m gonna do something, I’ll do it—I don’t give a damn what they think”) and Jay-Z (“I’m not lookin’ at you dudes, I’m lookin’ past ya”) to stay focused and maintain that ruthless, dogged determination that’s managed to carry me thus far.
What’s incredible though, are the psychological blocks I’m tripping over in this current zone of comfort and what it’s revealing to me about my own mythology and the persona I have been working so hard to project and subsequently, maintain. The perpetual starving artist. The struggling underdog. The self-deprecating failure. The spiritual exhibitionist. The sad clown.
The Sad Clown.
Hostel Paradiso—Nelson, New Zealand— THREE WEEKS AGO
After another long and random story that results in yet another last minute road trip into the unknown, I head to what I think is going to be a yoga retreat with a new, lifelong friend, we'll call her Bosom Buddy. It turns out to be yet another Ashram experience. One where I desperately hope I will find some clarity about whether or not I should say “fuck all” and stay on my journey or go home.
I don’t find the answer, but I do find something else deep in a meditation technique called “Yoga Nidra”. I’ll spare you the long explanation, but you basically hover in between a state of awake and dreaming. It’s a powerful meditation method that in theory, trains you be completely alert while you take a stroll through your subconscious. It’s pretty fucking trippy and sometimes when you come out of it—you feel like you’ve left a trance or a hallucination.
Anyway, during one of these daily sessions, I stumble upon a memory from my early childhood—one I don’t even remember, remembering. I am making a bet with my cousin about where we will end up at college.
“I bet you $200 I end up at Georgetown or some other Ivy League school,” I say. I’m 11 and $200 is a lot of Kool-Aid I’m going to have to sell, but I’m determined. There is no doubt in my mind that I have the ability. What I don’t account for is the powerful effect an environment has on an organism's potential.
Other than traveling the world and writing a novel, this is my earliest ambition and the only one I cling to for years. Even throughout all the moves—attending eight schools by the time I am a Sophomore—I still manage to maintain a 4.0 GPA. At some point during my Junior year--for reasons only I must take responsibility for (even though I want to blame other people)—I stop caring.
I drift above this memory during the meditation and witness all the trains of thought connected to this abandoned station. I observe feelings of loss, anger, regret, frustration, grief and most predominantly…
Deep, deep, deep down inside, I still feel like a colossal disappointment. I let down my parents. I let down my aunt and uncle in California who believed in me. Most importantly, I let myself down and I’ve never quite gotten over it. I have no one to blame. There are kids in the ghetto with half the opportunity and potential as I was blessed with and they found a way to make it to the Ivy League. But none of that matters now. What’s done is done and sadly, it’s time I truly accept: I’m too old to be a wunderkind.
Coming out of the contemplation, I realize I have a new task at hand: to forgive myself for failing to go to Harvard and begin to think of my life as successful despite its eccentricities. (Is it just me, or am I talking about learning to love my life like its a special needs child?) Because as long as this deserted dream remains buried in the depths of my subconscious, the deep-seated feeling of failure that accompanies it will always cast a shadow. Always. No matter how victorious the current moment may be.
The Coromandels—New Zealand—PRESENT MOMENT
Which leads me right back to this moment. Sitting awkwardly without a care in the world…having a full blown identity crisis.
Who am I without the constant struggle?
Who am I when things start to come a bit easier? What happens to the loser when she starts to win? Like a salmon swimming upstream, do I simply die when I finally reach my destination and spawn my creative eggs?
Most importantly, if the universe sends me support—am I going to be too stubborn to accept? Or am I selling out my hard knock idealism? And isn't it about time I sell that philosophy off anyway? Hasn't it served its purpose?
It turns out--I have no idea who I am without the fight. This is a particularly fascinating revelation. One that makes me squirm. I’m doing my best to process it by doing the opposite of what I want to do (run). I’m sitting still, waaaaay outside my comfort zone (precisely because it’s so incredibly comfortable) and doing the only thing I know how to do: write the first chapter of my book, despite all the kicking and screaming my Demons may be doing.
They're quite active lately. I have to step away now because I'm already judging this whole entire blog and telling myself how much I suck, which is the exact opposite of what I should be doing. The negative mental spin cycle has been pretty familiar: I’m such a narcissist. No one wants to hear about stupid me anyway. Who cares what I think? Why do I even write this crap? I don't know anything. I'm just a loser trying to make ends meet. Maybe I should write about aliens or better yet, start writing some shallow gossip column…
I’m not really sure where I am going with this blog (or my life for that matter). I don’t know much of anything. I know I write this “crap” because I have no choice in the matter. This crap writes me. I know there are times in life when there is no going back. This is one of them. I know it’s usually best to go with the flow. Or at least, high time.