For most of my life, being ‘right’ was my single greatest priority. Years ago, I believed I knew everything. Okay, that’s a lie. More like a couple weeks ago I believed I knew everything.
More lies. Dang it!
Truth is, this morning I knew everything then got some caffeine and realized I was completely full of it. It takes work for me to stop and ask the hard questions daily to keep me grounded.
What if I’m wrong? Why am I really doing X? What is my motive? Am I afraid of something? Do I really believe what I’m saying I believe?
Where are my pants?
I don’t spend vast amounts of time gazing into my navel searching for the Lint of Truth…especially since everyone knows the dryer hoards the Lint of Truth (left by socks who’ve achieved enlightenment and thus shed corporeal form).
Self-examination is still important. Alas, it’s also a tricky tightrope to walk, and takes years of practice not to fall on your head with a pole jammed somewhere painful.
We can lean toward questioning everything so much we become paralyzed neurotics incapable of making any decision. Conversely, if we don’t stop to examine what we’re doing and why? Let’s just say…
Persistence is a noble quality, but persistence can look a lot like stupid.
Me in My Smarter Moments
The Priority Problem
If I could boil down the essence of modern human angst into one core idea, I’d say we’re all facing a priority problem. We’re being relentlessly told we can have it ALL, when no…no we can’t.
Late Sunday night I got home from speaking non-stop for four days in Grand Rapids, Michigan. OMG! I love everyone and wanted to take them all home (but Feds have informed me this is technically ‘kidnapping.’ *rolls eyes*)
But, I work super hard to give it my all and, by the time I got home I was…DED.
So, I am planning on taking a couple days off and…I need anxiety meds just to take a break…which is super sad but hey, at least I’m honest.
Nostalgia and Priorities
I’m from Generation X, and it’s tough not to miss a time where people didn’t talk on the phone while in a public toilet.
People my age have lived fully in two completely different worlds. We were the bridge generation from the industrial world into the digital world. We played the first video games, but also remember being bored.
I’m old enough to recall a time when if you missed a T.V. show, well sucked to be you. Television stopped at midnight only to resume at 5:00 a.m. with morning news, faith healers, and Captain Kangaroo (not necessarily in that order).
Back in my day *waves cane* the phone would ring and we had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA who might be calling. The highlight of my preteen life? When I got a phone cord long enough to extend the ENTIRE PHONE SYTEM UNIT into my room.
Cordless phones? Witchcraft.
I mostly played outside in the dirt. We slinked through barbed wire to traipse through rattlesnake infested fields searching for buried treasure—finding only fire ants, rusted tools, and the joy of bull nettle.
Under my cult-leader-type influence, we set way too much stuff on fire (using that Chemistry set I got for my birthday). Being a super non-PC generation, we killed a lot of imaginary Russians, made ashtrays in art class for Mother’s Day, and we all wanted to be Bruce Lee.
***True Fact #1: Once knocked myself out with nunchucks. True Fact #2: Eventually got pretty good at nunchucks. True Fact #3: We all wanted ninja throwing stars for Christmas, and 98% of parents did not find this at all odd.
Yet, I also played a lot of Atari. I even created multiple small business ventures using child labor (little brother and friends). We pulled weeds, washed cars, picked up dog poop all to score enough cash to imbibe in Pac Man and ice cream at the corner store….
Until we ran out of money and the clerk kicked us out. Then we had to resume being bored.
In school, teachers introduced us to computers that didn’t do much of anything useful…except allow us to die of digital dysentery.
Life was comparably simple for kids and adults. Get up, do your job, stay out of trouble, and go to bed. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Mom was awesome keeping up with bills because there were only like…five of them. Television had three channels. People didn’t expect you to be accessible 24/7. If you called and no one answered?
Contrast my life in 1988 with 2022? It takes everything for me not to pack up and move to Alaska. Except I’m too lazy to pack, hate being cold and am too lazy to pack.
But seriously. Not only are we bombarded with calls, ads, emails, real mail and junk mail, but we can’t seem to escape.
Which is not exactly what’s so bad. What’s insane is we believe there’s a way to actually keep up with all this crap. But we can’t, because our world isn’t real.
When I was a kid, I spent time at other kids’ houses daily. Not BS ‘play dates’ where everyone dresses in ‘real clothes’ and cleans the house like it’s friggin’ Thanksgiving. All this so two sticky kids can whack each other with Jedi light-sabers that LOOK like actual light-sabers…instead of a stick.
The on-line world is filtered. Since websites thrive when people click, only the extremes are ever represented. Extremes get more clicks.
It gets awfully tiring being in the extremes.
We’re deluged with the extremely beautiful, thin, fit, smart, talented and the teenager who’s now a billionaire because he invented an app that makes a thousand unique fart noises.
And why am I even griping because the meme (above) is SO ME. I can have 6,000 pictures of my CATS!
Point is, when everything is a priority, then nothing is.
*writes this on sticky notes to post on forehead*
Because if I listen to the on-line world, I’m supposed to make millions of dollars, write books that fundamentally change the global culture, never age, have six-pack abs, a perfect marriage, rescue animals, save the rainforest, all while keeping a house so clean one could perform surgery in my bathroom.
The bathroom I refurbished myself using recycled tires, wire hangars, and wooden pallets. All held together with unenlightened dryer lint and non-GMO, vegan, eco-friendly glue I made…in my ‘free’ time or bought to support indigenous people from some place I can’t find on a map.
Priority? Save the planet THEN show off on Faceplant, Flitter, Sintrest and Instasham & TikMock.
Busy, Busy, Busy
I’m from the buckle of the Bible Belt and we have a saying. If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.
I’ve noticed that, unless I am mindful to unplug, get quiet and recalibrate, it is super easy for me to lose my way. Why? Everything is overwhelming. I hate my phone, am afraid of my mail and won’t shop until we’re down rationing toilet paper.
Objects on ‘To Do List’ might appear more important than they really are.
Every day is a habit of waking, taking QUIET time to reflect, then whittling everything down to what TRULY matters.
Or at least that’s the goal. Gotta start somewhere, right?
Because ‘having everything’ is playing life like Pac Man instead of chess.
In Pac Man you never win. It just gets faster and faster and harder and harder UNTIL YOU DIE. Chess? There is strategy, patience, willingness to ‘let go’ of even ‘important’ pieces to protect the most crucial one. In chess, you CAN actually learn, improve, grown and even win!
Entropy is real and alive and a beast in the digital age. Much we can’t control. Trust me. Target gives no figs I really don’t want eighty aisles of STUFF…especially when they only ever have two checkout lanes open, despite having forty.
*wonders if thirty-eight of the registers are real or props*
Only So Many Figs to Give—If It Isn’t TRULY a Priority?
We might want to have everything, but everything is a lie. We can’t make all things a priority because then, well…welcome to Hell’s Tilt-A-Whirl.
Back to those crucial questions I mentioned in the beginning. If we’re exhausted, strung out, and feeling like losers, it’s time to stop for a priority check (and a dose of reality).
The media is a lousy measuring guide because we will never be enough. If we were, they couldn’t sell us more STUFF. They sell us crap we don’t need by making us feel like losers, that we are missing out on the AMAZING…when we really aren’t.
Most of life is in the average. We’re only capable of being remarkable in a couple places. Why? Because being remarkable takes focus and a LOT of hard work. So choose the PRIORITY, then learn to be cool with the rest.
My home is clean…enough.
I haven’t finished all the painting and redecorating, but if the walls are that bothersome? Come paint and I’ll cook 😀 .
A final caveat on this? If I want my writing to be exemplary, where does it rank on my ‘list?’ Is it a priority?
An actual priority?
Since I’m OCD and a neat-freak, I know NOT to clean anything until I write. I must do this because my PRIORITY is to be a superlative author/blogger, NOT Martha Stewart—for an entire HOUR—before my cats and entropy destroy everything.
If my writing keeps ending up at the END of my list, more hard questions.
Why am I procrastinating? What am I afraid of? Is my writing always last because I believe I don’t have what it takes? Remember noble distractions can mask as priorities.
What Are Your Thoughts? Then GET OFF MY LAWN! 😛 *SMOOCH!*
Do you feel guilty about doing NOTHING? Struggle to get of the hamster wheel of To Dos? Does it seem like the ‘easier’ our world tries to make life the harder it gets? Is it an active effort to keep priorities in line? Do you find your writing constantly put off for…later?
Do you miss being unavailable? And people not being ticked off because you were unavailable? Sigh. What do you miss about the ‘good old days’? I get it, modern life does have a lot of good, but I do miss having nothing to do.
Tell me about your favorite parts of childhood, or whatever time gives you the rosiest glow. I want to hear about your My Little Ponies, playing HeMan, watching I Love Lucy learning to work in a wood shop. Whatever! Share your stories. I love hearing them!
Have a hard time doing anything for yourself? Because it feels too selfish. Once EVERYONE else is tended, THEN…maybe…
There are cool ON DEMAND classes below if you want to have fun honing your skills at your own pace. Otherwise? Feel free not to scroll down 😉 . Working to make this easy.
I love hearing from you!
What do you WIN? For the month of AUGUST, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
***Been out of town so will pick July’s winner next time.
***All classes come with a FREE recording
NOW ON DEMAND!
ON DEMAND: Bring on the Binge: How to Plot a Series
SIGN UP HERE. Use New20 for $20 off
ON DEMAND: The Art of Character: Writing Characters for a SERIES
SIGN UP HERE Use New20 for $20 off
Spilling the Tea: Blogging for Authors ON DEMAND
Sign up HERE and Use New25 for $25 off