Taking it all in

When the fruit is ripe - pick it... and enjoy
When the fruit is ripe – pick it… and enjoy

Constantly striving and struggling takes a toll. It takes an enormous toll, in terms of energy and insight and being able to enjoy your life. When you’re constantly GO-ing, when you’re focused on being active and reactive and pro-active, you lose sight of the good that you can let in.

Sometimes you lose the ability to let it all in. There’s a lot of good in the world, but we can be so busy fighting and pushing, that we’ve got nothing left for just sitting back and letting the good things be good — and enjoying the fruits of our labors. It’s no fun, being literally unable to reap what you’ve sown.

It’s like being a farmer in a country that never has a summer or fall. It’s work-work-work, year-round, without any hope of harvest. I used to know a farmer who lived in a northern area that had something like three months of growing season.  There was snow on the ground from September till May, and then the ground had to thaw. He was not a happy farmer. He was exhausted. Eventually, his barn burned, and he had to move.

I’m a bit like that farmer — but sort of by my own making. I have been pushing and striving and struggling for such a long time. Damage control. Chasing my dreams. Making the products of my imagination become real. And all that pushing has seriously worn me down… to the point where some days I can’t see the point of anything, anymore.

Then something occurred to me yesterday, when I was feeling down and blah:

I am actually living my dream.

See, when I was a kid, all I wanted to do, was be a writer. I wanted to write things that were helpful to others and provided insight into everyday life. I also wanted to be free of editorial control, so others would not tell me what to write, what to say (or not say), and I could do so on my own terms.

My goal for many, many years, was to become a freelance writer. And for a while I was doing that. But I ran up against problems with editors and schedules, and I could never seem to finish a job properly. Whether it was a freelance editing job, or it was technical writing, I was just not good at being independent and keeping it together.

I wanted to be independent. How I wanted that! And for a while, I was. On and off, I have “done my independent thing” and taken contract jobs, while managing freelance projects on the side. That’s what people did in my world of technology. And that’s what I did, too.

But it was always a struggle. And my writing wasn’t helped by the pressure to make ends meet.

For so many years, I felt like a permanent job was a millstone around my neck, that I was going to be pulled down by companies that didn’t know how to run themselves. That was actually the case for years, because I worked at companies that just couldn’t seem to figure it out. Now those companies no longer exist.

And for some reason, I thought that ALL companies were like that. Because that’s all I’d ever known.

So, for a long, long time, it was a double-whammy of pressure to make ends meet with companies that couldn’t keep their act together, the pressure to make it on my own — on m own terms — and the struggle to find the time and opportunity to write. I have written almost daily for decades, now, and it’s the one constant in my life. So, dealing with the pressures at work and all the existential difficulties that go with trying to make ends meet, keeping the dream of writing alive was pretty much a challenge.

It’s not that I couldn’t write. It just didn’t feel like I was a writer. It felt more like a task, than an art, and I lost touch with so much insight, over the years, because I was so stressed. If it wasn’t problems at work, it was  problems after another concussion — and the two fed each other, actually. I didn’t have the same sense of writing that I’d had in my 20s, before I had the mortgage and disabled spouse to provide for. It was nowhere to be found, and I thought the only way to get out of that was to get going on my own terms and live the dream of total, complete independence.

Well, now things are very different. And although the company I’m working for now is going through its own reorganization (who isn’t?), and my job and position may be very different in another 6 months, I feel more independent than ever before. It’s not so much the company, as it is my position. The job I have now is truly on par with the work I’ve done in the past, which is nothing short of amazing. I thought that sort of position would never come ’round again. I thought I was toast. But now I know I’m not, and I have the opportunity to focus on a whole new type of work that demands expertise and skill in much the same way that my programming did in the past.

And the best part is, while I am bone tired by the end of the day, it’s a good tired, and while it does wear me out, it also energizes me and gives me real hope for my future.

Plus, I can write again. I mean, I have been writing — a lot — for a number of years on this blog. And there’s no lack of projects I have in various stages of completion. But now it actually feels like I’m writing. It’s actually sinking in.

It’s important to let it all in, if only every now and then. It’s the thing that lets us see that all we’ve been working for, is actually paying off. That there is something to show for our efforts.

It’s important to let that happen.

So our world can open up again, and we can know that all is not in vain.

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From good, to … where?

More quandary… I woke up early again today. I think I’m just jazzed about having extended time off, and all the ideas I normally don’t have the time to really dig into are pushing at the edges of my thought process.

They’re like neglected children — or puppies — all clamoring for attention.

What to do?

Well, first, I need to realize that this is a really good problem to have. A lot of people never figure out just what they want to do with their lives. I know what I want to do, and I’m doing it.

I just need to figure out how to make the most of it — and also get support from others to keep doing it. I spend a whole lot of time researching and writing and publishing, yet so far, the majority of the support has been motivational, moral support. I’m not knocking that — far from it. The “emotional paycheck” (as they call it) has been hugely important to me.

The thing is, emotions don’t really pay the bills, and I’ve gotta do that. So, I spent the lion’s share of my time working jobs that will get me money, so I can keep up this work… keep it going. And do more.

The other thing that’s kind of throwing me off, is that I’ve gotten into a pretty good space with my life. Sure, I still have issues that make my days “interesting”, but they’re manageable. I’ve figured out how to either ameliorate them or work around them or just plain ignore them and move along with my life. All the energy and time and focus I spent on identifying my issues, addressing them, coming up with new strategies and techniques, etc., etc.  …. well, it’s all paid off. And I’m in a really competent space right now (when I’m not mouthing off to police officers and managers at work, anyway).

And now where do I go?

I mean, seriously. I’ve felt like I was barely breaking even, for most of my 50 years. I’ve always had the sense that I was playing catch-up… and I wasn’t catching up very fast.

Now that I have the sense that I AM caught up, what do I do with myself?

If all you’re doing for your entire life, is trying to break even, and your whole life is geared towards laying low and minimizing risk, how can you transition to stepping out and above and beyond, when you no longer have to be chasing an ever-elusive goal?

If all your life you’re geared towards keeping things from blowing up, what do you do with yourself when you don’t have to be on constant guard? What do you do with all the energy that’s been spent on moment-by-moment damage control for so many years, when you’ve managed to achieve that level of control at a higher level?

And how do you keep yourself from imploding or going supernova from all the energy that comes up, when you’re not in constant fight-flight mode?

That there’s the question I’m wrangling with, this weekend. I have a lot of things I want to do, and that’s great. And in addition, I need to get used to the idea of moving forward into the unknown — and NOT having it all blow up in my face.

Well, this certainly keeps things interesting.

Onward.