Tonight, I was having a conversation with my friend Sam about a book he recommended on creativity (The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield).
I said that while the book was overall OK, it didn’t tell me anything new. Also, that I wasn’t too happy about the theological turn it took at some point, but that’s another story.
The thing is, the conversation developed into a deeper one about life and our paths and all that, so I told him I needed to put that conversation on hold (yup, I’m that kind of nerd) so I could write this down. Sam, feel free to reply to all this either on Whatsapp, or even in your own blog, if you want!
I believe we, humans, are evolving beings. We are definitely not static, and by interaction with others we change. Others, in the sense of other human beings, and the world, but also ourselves. Our own cells die and regenerate, we change skin cells everyday, our hair grows and our tastes change over time. That’s just part of the process.
I always say that I like helping others and making others happy, however, I don’t want to be the sad clown who makes others laugh but who then drinks himself to sleep. I believe that I am the only one who can make myself happy.
How do achieve that? By getting to know myself. I can’t really offer my best to others if I don’t know what that is, if I’m not happy with myself, and that takes time.
Look at yourself, not in the mirror, but deep inside. Do you like what you see? Do you like, not how you interact with others, but how you interact with yourself?
I am certainly a work in progress, and I know that. I said to Sam that my goal in life is to not have regrets. I want to be there, during my last breath on earth, look back to my life and think: I did the best I could, and I enjoyed it all, good and bad. I don’t regret the life I’ve lived, and die with a smile on my face. It’s probably easier to win the lottery, who knows, I just know that this goal is a daily battle.
I mentioned a path… I don’t believe our paths are already defined and that we have a destiny. We do have a destination, for sure, but how we get there is entirely to our choice. For example, you might decide not to study hard for your finals, and instead go out clubbing, and that might be fine at the time, but that might cause you not to get the grades you needed to get into the degree of your choice. You took a left, when you should have taken a right. Or should you?
Sure, getting the grades you needed would have landed you on the degree you wanted straight away, but that would mean that you might have missed invaluable experience instead. Failure, learning from mistakes, finding alternatives, taking the longer path to your goals, fending for yourself… Turning right means the easy way, it means you never meet the Doctor.
I made a hard choice recently… My friend Sabine can tell you the amount of unhappiness I had about it. I wanted to be in Graphic Design, but I could not find the way how. I have learnt all I could on my own, but I wasn’t maybe good enough to teach myself the next steps, I needed guidance, but could not find it.
Working in Sales meant that my job was in no way related to what I wanted to do, so I could not ask the company for help, and a degree or post-graduate course were way to expensive. I could not find someone to teach me in the evenings, and I know that online courses require an amount of discipline that I lack.
I was so unhappy because I was clinging to this dream and I was nowhere near it. And you know what I did? I let go of it. You can call it give up, if that makes you happy, I called it lifting a weight off my shoulders. I simply (it wasn’t a simple, easy decision) decided that since I could not see a way of getting there, I would park it on the side, and focus on other, more achievable goals. I focused on writing and photography instead, which I can practise and improve my skills without the need to spend £6k on them! OK, I know I could do stuff around Graphic Design for less, but you know what I mean.
I made a comparison: it was like having a rotting limb. It hurt, and I knew it was not good to me, but still I was clinging to it, letting the rot spread. It was unbearable to see my dream slipping away. The moment I said, right, this is unlikely to happen right now, so focus on something else, I felt much better. I cut that limb off. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt at the time, and it sort of itches sometimes, a bit like a ghost limb might, but it doesn’t hurt any more. I still read a lot about Design, and I try to go to exhibitions, and do my little exercises on the computer and blocs, but I have a much healthier relationship with it now. It’s fine.
Funnily enough, what I do now at work might be slightly related to some aspects of Graphic Design, so much that I actually have access to some great online courses (I would have had to pay for those myself previously), and even I might be able to ask the company to send me to some training in the future… Who knows!
This takes me back to the path… I did mention to my friend earlier tonight that I cannot judge my path by where I am now. I can only judge it by the steps I’ve already taken and the few steps I can see ahead of me. I know where I am, but that’s just where my path ends so far, it’s just a point on the road. I know where my journey ends, but I don’t know what’s to come yet.
This helps me understand that getting to my destination might take longer or shorter than other people, but that I should not stress nor worry for anything I haven’t been able to achieve yet. It is a much healthier attitude to amaze at how far I’ve become already and all the things I’ve accomplished. That doesn’t mean I dwell on the past, not at all. There are many things I’ve done that I’m proud of, and some others that I’m not, but I can only learn from my mistakes and keep on moving forward, accepting that I’m only human and therefore, I make mistakes. There’s no point in beating yourself up about what’s in the past, as long as you take that experience to become a better you and let that define your next steps towards your goals.
I am still a work in progress, but I know where I’m headed to. I also know there are certain stops I want to make on my journey, so I’ll make sure I head myself towards them on my way, but everything else is still to be define, and isn’t that beautiful?
I leave you with an extract from my novel (still a draft at this stage, which I’ve just brought as it’s currently written, errors and all; judge it as you may), which I hope helps illustrate my point a bit further, and also gives you a glimpse of the story. I wrote this bit about 10 months ago!
‘What does that mean?’ he asked. The spirits scared? That was new… What could scare a ghost? Samuel did not even know they had the ability to be scared of anything… ‘What are they scared of?’
‘I don’t know,’ replied the witch, ‘every time I try to seek the future, I keep bouncing back to my past.’
‘To your past?’
‘Yes, to the day when I became what I am now… And I don’t understand why. It feels as if there was some energy interference with the signal, and it comes all scrambled, so I keep tuning in to a different station. I’ve tried to see Emily’s future, but it’s a big dark hole. Everything around her is dark, and everything her life has touched… Everyone’s future is a big incognita a the moment… The main problem is that her existence touches everyone in the world, even if at a low level, because of her powers, so at the moment, there is no definite future for the entire world. Imagine, billions of people that live in this planet, all their futures placed on hold. Every living creature: trees, flowers, dogs, bees, angels… everyone! There’s no way to tell what’s going to happen. Now, when this happens with one person, when someone’s future is unclear, I can see their path, to some extent. It might not be focused, or clear, but you can definitely see a broad path. There might be a fog, or a darkness around it, but you can tell when it ends, even if you can’t read the fine details of a date. You can see if it’s a long path, or a short one. Sometimes the scale is all zoomed in, and a path that looked extremely long is suddenly cut short abruptly, and then it all becomes clear. One person. You can see the fog and darkness… That means… Well, it might mean many things… It might mean the person is going to die, or it might mean that they’re going to be unlucky and miserable for the rest of their lives… It might mean they will be happily ever after, we just can’t see it. It makes the spirits nervous, but they simply look the other way and avoid looking into that void, for fear of being pulled in. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand too. Don’t get me wrong… No one’s future is already predetermined. One path might have many different branches. All paths lead to the same place: death, that’s your destination. How you choose to get there is entirely up to you. Some events are fixed in time and space, and those can never change, but many others are just opportunities for you to take.’
‘Think of it as the satellite help humans have in their cars… They wait for the signal, so the device finds their location, and they enter their destination. The device, destiny if you like, creates a route, a likely route that might happen. You don’t normally see the entire route, unless you actively search for that information, which is what I do with my seeing. You normally only care about where you are at any given moment, where you want to go, and maybe the next two or three steps to take. Our paths in life are the same: we know where we are at any given moment, or if we don’t, we’re just trying to figure things out, waiting to get enough signal to be able to locate ourselves in life. We know where we’re going: death. We only know the next few steps to take: what to eat next, this week, next month… Plans and similar.’
‘OK, I understand,’ Samuel said, ‘but what does it have to be with-?’ the hard look the witch gave him made him stop talking. Samuel had great power, but he was no seer. For him and his brothers, that was completely out of their range. They controlled the now, and everything in the moment, but they could not control the past or the future. The only one who had some ability to see the future was the man at the desk, and Samuel doubted he could actually see everything. ‘Sorry, please continue,’ he apologised.
‘Thank you,’ the witch replied sarcastically. ‘As I was saying… When you’re driving, this little device is telling you how to reach your destination, but guess what… You don’t have to follow its advice! It might tell you to turn right at the next crossroads, but you might want to keep going straight. Then, the machine calculates a new route to take you to your destination, based in your last choice. Destiny is the same. You are presented with choices and situations, and you choose one over another, or deal with them as you see fit, and the situations that will come after that will be based on your past actions. There is a path for you, but it has many ramifications… Now, when there is a dark cloud obscuring the path, we can’t know what’s going to happen. Humans sense there’s something wrong with their lives, they can’t see much farther ahead, much like in a foggy day, and it troubles them. Some people get down, and they can’t really tell why, others get over excited with a great thirst for life, and become daredevils… Some people can’t stand it and end their lives. It’s a lot of uncertainty, which becomes a weight on people’s souls. Now imagine that for every single living creature in this planet.’
Samuel was suddenly overwhelmed by the power of that image. A big black cloud was covering everyone’s fate. No wonder the world seemed old and dusty these days.
‘What do you do when you’re lost and you can’t see the path ahead?’ the witch asked him, ‘you retrace your steps to the last point you recognise, the last moment when you were certain of your location… Well, it seems something similar is happening to me with my powers… I can’t see what’s laying ahead, so they keep taking me back to the past. Now, why I am being drawn to that particular day, I have no idea, and it troubles me.’
They both sat in silence for a while, just sipping from the herbal tea while it was still warm. They were both lost in their own thoughts. Samuel wondered what the witch was thinking, but he did not want to pry. For his part, he was worried about where all this was going. The fact that Emily’s future touched so many others troubled him. Was it for a good reason? Was she going to save the world or destroy it? Was she going to become a powerful sorceress that would keep the world in balance? That would actually benefit the world, possibly the entire universe, rather than just kill her… but what if her sole existence was already creating this dark force in the world and it was what would end up destroying it? What if all these people started committing mass murder, collective suicide, robbing, raping…? Was that the meaning of all this? Was that it? Emily’s influence was so bad for the world that she simply needed to die?
Marta Nava – (Still) Untitled and in progress
You know, I’ve been thinking about letting go of the weight on my shoulders, too- this dream of becoming a musician. It’s interesting how I stumbled on your blog about the path you taking. It was insightful for me to read, and uplifting. I hope you have more advice you can share with us. 🙂
I’m glad you found it interesting! Thing with our dreams is we either give it all and dedicate ourselves to them, whatever might come, or we kick them to a corner of our lifes, behing other priorities. I guess we all need to decide at some point whether it’s still worth keeping.
Thank you for your comment!
I’m in the process of that exact scenario right now. Hopefully you’ll keep that passion close to your heart- even if you don’t do anything with it right now. You’re welcome. I look forward to more posts. 🙂