Oh Todd Henry, this prompt for Quest2015 really froze me in my tracks. My whole body understood that this one isn’t hypothetical, this question is for real. If you knew that your life’s story will be written based upon your choices and actions in 2015, how will you live?
I am currently reading The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope…. thank you Cindy Henson, it’s awesome. Cope is writing about embracing your dharma, the thing that you are uniquely suited to do in the world. One of his examples is the poet Robert Frost. Robert Frost made decisions to support his poetry with his life. He jumped all in. First with the farm, later with moving to England. I’m still reading it, but I think that part of what is holding me back is that I won’t jump all in. A few years ago, I jumped and committed to earning my MFA, and then I half-committed by not taking a full-time teaching gig here in Homer so that I could keep writing. But frankly, now I am stacking the deck against myself, spreading myself too thin, diluting my attention.
I have gotten lost again in the scarcity mindset. I have forgotten that the work is all. The Work, not the outcome. When I manage to remember that, and manage to do the work, everything lines up with no rigging. When I get lost in the oh my god, I’m almost fifty and I need to get the publishing thing and the teaching thing and this and that, I lose my way (i.e. my dharma in Stephen Cope vernacular).
My dharma = connecting to other people through words.
My dharma = writing poetry.
My dharma = sharing poetry.
So how shall I live in 2015 so that my dharma is in the center of my life, not relegated to scraps of time at the margins? Wait! The answer is right there – put my writing at the center of my life, not a half hour in the morning and whatever energy I have left after dinner. Otherwise the story of my life for 2015 will be the story of my life for 2014: wow, she had really great opportunities which she pissed away by running around like a deranged starving chicken. Otherwise, that manuscript which is sooooo close to be finished will never see completion. Those poems will never be submitted for publication. The incredible richness of the world, sea urchins and clouds and puppies and glaciers and rocking chairs, the beauty and sorrow, will pass me by and never reach the page which is altar and memory box and compost heap.
Resist the urge to hedge my bets – well, what if that poetry thing doesn’t work out, maybe you should try this *New Thing* which might be the answer to how you will earn money or fame or safety. Resist the suitcase by the door. Resist the urge for new over nuance. Commit. Be all in. So that the story of 2015 is the story of my life – she wrote poetry, she gave it to the world the best she could, she lived with her heart (and senses) open and shared what came in.