I am a fairly superstitious person for not actually believing in any god, godess, or power aside from the power of nature to continually reinvent itself according to changing conditions and stimuli. I can honestly tell you I don’t believe in the evil eye. I don’t. It doesn’t exist. Everything that’s meant to be happens. Nothing that’s not meant to be ever happens. Even so, there’s a peasant-like dogmatic aspect to my nature that still requires that I knock on wood when making certain statements or that I couch certain sentiments very carefully in order to not jinx myself. I think it’s more about acknowledging my powerlessness and remaining humble rather than a belief that saying I want something out loud will result in me not getting it because there’s some perverse god or devilish eye who thinks I don’t deserve to have things I want.
(Whoa. Sudden random completely unrelated thought just jumped into my head- what would happen if I went around my town dressed in a burka? Would I get treated differently than I am as a misfit socialist?)
I have struggled not to be afraid of saying what I want out loud. I have struggled to be comfortable saying it and knowing that if the opposite happens it isn’t personal. I know it’s not. I just struggle against the simple emotions that rule most humans and the fears that chance and circumstance can sometimes paint us with.
I struggle with it because the counterpart to that superstitiousness is the belief that if we don’t acknowledge what we want, we can never get it, that we have to say what we want and not be afraid of it because if we can’t even say it how will we begin to take steps to achieve it? I believe that most of the time we get what we want because we set things in motion for it. We put ourselves in the right place to get what we want, we go after it.
If you want to ride horses but you don’t have any of your own and can’t afford one then what do you do? You save up money, you talk to people who have them, stables that rent them, friends of friends with horses, or you take on a job cleaning horse stables until you make it happen. How do you not make it happen? Horses don’t generally fall out of the sky into your lap, cause they’d kill you if they did. You don’t make it happen if you keep that desire to ride horses secreted in your breast and go about your life exactly as you are, where there are no horses, and no connections being forged with people or businesses that deal in horses.
Of course, just because you want something and you put yourself out there and work towards it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. Maybe you’ll never have enough money to achieve the things you want that require money you don’t have. Maybe you’ll never meet the right people to help you reach your desires.
And then sometimes we get close to achieving a desire only to find that it isn’t what we thought it would be up close and personal. Maybe you get close to a 1500 pound beast with a wary eye as large as an apple and realize that bicycles are much more predictable and don’t bolt unexpectedly. Still, you won’t ever know if you sit dreaming silently in your cocoon of self.
So I’ve been trying to say what I want more. Not just what I want but what I intend, what I’m going to work towards in those cases when what I want is something I can do something (anything) about. I’m trying not to just say it in my head but out loud, and often.
I no longer say I want to publish novels. I say I intend to publish my novels. And it’s dangerously close to a statement that I have no control over and is possibly the sort of thing that will make me feel stupid if I die and haven’t achieved it.
I’m going to get my novels published.
That kind of hurts and scares me, as ridiculous as that sounds. But it’s a lot better than listening to myself say things like this:
“When I publish my novel, IF I’m lucky enough to get it published, I plan to write more, provided people don’t hate it and I suck and it flops, which it totally might because you never know…”
Right there is the way to convince all literary agents and book publishers to steer wide of me. If I can’t be certain enough of my own value, skill, and hard work, why should anyone else? I’m a good writer. I suck as a person in many ways, I stick my foot in my mouth at least once a day, I unwittingly constantly trudge over more delicate feelings than my own, and I’m a slob… but I can fucking write the Great Wall of China to ash!
(I’m looking for a giant god-like hand to smite me down…)
My secret card in all this is that I maintain a sense of humility* at all times. I know a person can work towards one single goal their whole life and still not achieve it.
So I can either look back and wonder what might have happened if I’d had the confidence to say what I want and work tirelessly for it regardless of outcome and regret that I didn’t, or I can know that I have lived strongly and as confidently as possible and not been afraid of wishes and wants.
What about you? What do you want? What are you doing about it? Have you said what you want out loud?
What I Want and What I’m Doing About It:
I want the bank to allow us to refinance so we don’t have to lose our home. Philip is the one working on this for us, resubmitting paperwork every single month. He needs to get on making the follow-up calls regularly. That’s all we can do.
I want to remain employed so we don’t end up on the streets. I’d like that employment to remain with my current employers unless someone else can pay me a million dollars a year to do something legal and not mean. I try to be a good employee and I care about my work and I try to remember at all times that I’m playing with a team and act like it.
I want this year of parenting to be as awesome as last year was. Maintaining patience for who my son is and his challenges is very important, continuing to encourage the best in him and forgive the worst in him all helps a great deal to have a good parenting experience. Not listening to criticisms from other parents nor listening to anyone who thinks ADD is a made up issue is very very important. Parenting my kid used to be much more painful when I didn’t trust myself to know my kid and what issues are real issues.
I want to see my roses blooming again. Even if we lose the house I should be able to see them blooming once, at least a few of them. It will help if I prune them this winter. Since we won’t move until late spring/early summer if we lose the house, I’ll have my chance. In addition to this, if we have to move then I have friends who will take my special roses, so I’ll see them again.
I want to lose fifty pounds now that I’m no longer on the medication that was making me gain 20 lbs a year. This has been a goal for years and was panic inducing since nothing I did made any difference. I finally lost 20 pounds after getting off the Paxil, but since then I’ve put it on again. This is NOT out of my control though, this time it has been all my doing and I’m really happy to know that now when I do what I should be doing to lose weight, it will actually happen. So, to work towards this desire I am drawing up a simple plan for myself.
I want to reach a new level of physical strength and endurance. To do this I must keep training in Kung Fu with everything I’ve got. Doing push-ups, crunches, kicks, etc not only in class but outside of it too. This is a completely obtainable desire because I’ve already become much stronger in the last year.
I want to find a literary agent. This is a process that is not easy but what is necessary is to send out an endless stream of query letters after researching appropriate agents (ones who handle the kind of writing I do). It’s time to start doing this this year.
I want to finish writing Cricket and Grey. To work towards this I have to become more disciplined with my time. I need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. I need to put in two hours a day and I will absolutely reach this goal.
I want to be able to afford getting my teeth taken care of. This is a little less in my control. We make a finite amount of money. While we are waiting on the bank not paying our mortgage we have been paying down our taxes and this month those will be done. We have to save a lot of money to move if the bank doesn’t let us refinance, but somehow we need to budget so I can get my teeth taken care of too.
I want to get all the pest situations under control (mice, fleas…and any other unpleasant pesty surprises waiting to blossom). Put more mouse traps out (Philip does this for me!) and apply more flea spray to carpet.
I want to be able to run again. Losing the weight will greatly aid in this endeavor. The weight makes running hurt my joints like hell. I have to slowly slowly train for this. And carefully. I believe that as I lose weight this will become easier and training for this will help me lose weight. Win, win.
I want to get over my hysterical paralyzing anxiety about Twitter. Actually I wouldn’t care about it at all if it weren’t for the panel at the Blogher conference pounding it into my head that Twitter is an important tool for the modern author. Must use Twitter. To help get over it I just have to do it. My friend Angela has tips for me to follow as soon as I swallow down my paralyzing hatred/panic of it.
I want Judy to come through her surgeries better than she’s felt in years so she can go to Jamaica with Lars. (Update: sometimes wanting isn’t enough. Judy died in surgery 12.28.10) What I was going to do to try and help realize this was send Judy the family photo yearbook I was making in Blurb. I was waiting until the end of December to finish it. Judy loved loved loved Philip and, well, everyone. I think it might have helped give her some joy to see what Philip and Max have been up to, and joy helps people stay/get better. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to do this one. She told us she was at peace dying if she didn’t make it through surgery so I’m not so sad for her. She’s really where she’s ready to be. We loved you Judy!!
I want Lonnie to get through her cancer treatment feeling better than ever so her family can have a bazillion more years with her and so I can get to know her better. I had a plan for something for Lonnie for last year and never did it, obviously what I’m realizing now is that time is of the essence. I can’t say what I have planned because Lonnie sometimes reads my blog. Hang in there Lonnie- I know you have an awesome support group all around you in your family and friends!!!!!
Snow. Lots of snow. More snow. 3 feet of snow that doesn’t melt for weeks. There’s nothing I can do about this one. I’d do a snow dance but I don’t believe in snow dances. It’s all about what the earth is up to, what precipitation is happening at what temperatures at what altitudes. All I can do is watch and wait and hope.
I want to become a blue belt in Kung Fu. I must push myself (safely) to improve all my actions. Special emphasis on really getting the JKD lockflow down so I can move on to the Dynamic Lock Flow and get to where I can do the whole thing all the way through. Once I do that I can work more on the technique.
No hospitalizations in our family. All we can do is be mindful and work at living more healthily all the time.
Healthy animal family members! They’ve all got their shots now and we’re working on the flea situation that got out of control. Next we should work on Pippa’s weight a little. I refuse to make her be a skinny kitty because I don’t think that’s natural for her but she needs to slim a bit and NOT gain. Chick needs more exercise.
To visit my old hens. Even just once. Just have to ask the Jaillet’s permission and plan a little trip. I’m sure Sheila and Andre wouldn’t mind letting us visit them once.
*Anyone who believes otherwise, because I write a blog (considered by some critics to be an act of narcissism) is seeing the very limited surface view and is most likely a person who isn’t particularly sharp witted. That’s all the time I have for such people.