Trying to figure it out
We really make our lives so complicated. Not even on purpose, which I think makes it worse. There’s so much unconscious stumbling along the path we call our lives. So much blind forward motion that we don’t even notice the things we cling to that make it what it shouldn’t. We’ve all gone through so much unconscious training. We watched those who raised us and took on their lessons, whether good or ill. We created unconscious systems that helped us avoid pain. We learned to ignore problems we felt we shouldn’t/couldn’t/don’t want to deal with. We pretend that any movement is better than none. We convince ourselves we’re doing the right thing.
I’ve seen this in myself for years. Ignored the quiet voice that suggests it’s all wrong because making it right would mean facing difficulties. I made my life complicated by thinking I was keeping it simple. Keeping to the design. Not rocking the boat or hurting people’s feelings.
But how should we know? Never are we taught how to be ourselves. Most of the time, we’re steered away from who we are. We believe we’re supposed to. We believe the adults in our lives have some grand knowledge, and listening to them will lead us towards greatness.
As an adult, I know this is a lie. Adults – people who are older than children – don’t know. I readily admit this. Yet we continue to teach the youth that they should be like us. We continue to teach them what we have experienced is not true.
Shouldn’t we intrinsically know who we are? Children know. Just watch them. No one laughs like a small child. That laugh that is impossible not to laugh along with. True joy. Forgetting that is something we’ve convinced ourselves is just a part of life. Well, sure, because we’ve all allowed it to be. What if we stopped molding people into our view of who they should be? What if we let them find out who they are? What if we stopped stealing everyone’s joy?
I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life that we are not ourselves. I’ve never been angrier at anything than I am at the public education system (that’s not entirely fair, and also a part of a different conversation).
I set myself up for something I hadn’t considered this year when I decided to participate in One Word (read about my word discovery here). To follow my word for the year, journaling has become a significant part of my life. I used to journal – back in my school years, then occasionally throughout my life. Never with any real consistency; never really deep-diving into why my questions came up or couldn’t be answered. I never really tried to answer them. I assumed they were unanswerable. I assumed my existential dilemma was something I needed to manage.
Today, I know exactly why I didn’t look further than the surface. I didn’t want to face myself. When I first picked up my pen this year, I actually laughed about it. It came out so clean and clear on that first page. All my claims to be more self-aware than the average person were for crap when staring at how I’d blatantly ignored this detail for over a decade. I liked wallowing in my self-pity. And I was much too lazy to put in any work to be happy.
Over a decade. That statement above made me ill to write. So much wasted time, and for what? All in the name of avoidance. The stoics talk about this. About anticipating death at any moment, so you value time above all else. They say if you’re thirty years old, you’re actually thirty years dead. We’re not looking at 60 or 90 more years to live, but those years we’ve lived as being gone because we can’t know – with surety – how many days are left. If we never know when that last day will come, we will acknowledge each moment as precious as it is. This is why saying, out loud, that ten years of knowing a thing but not doing anything about it makes me physically ill. I know it does no good to be sad about the past, to stare into it, and let it cripple me. Still, I will take a moment to acknowledge it, lament it, and promise I will try to be more aware so I don’t waste more of my time like this. So easy to say, I know. Much harder to do. That’s why I try to commit to showing up every day. Some days will be great, some not so great, but always I will be there, allowing life to move through me, rather than reacting and/or hiding from it. That is my biggest problem. Hiding.
Back to Journaling
So, with my word for the year to guide me:
A Practice of Truthfulness
…guides us to think, speak, and act with integrity.from: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/satya-a-practice-of-truthfulness
My first obstacle is to figure out how to know what I do is truthful. How do I know if ego is pulling me versus trusting it’s my purpose? That’s where journaling comes in and is super important. Because exactly – how can I know if I don’t know myself? I need to get into my head – deep, where it hurts and is uncomfortable.
Sure, sitting around thinking about things can be helpful. Except, until you say something out loud and/or put it on paper, it’s really just abstract ideas. Trust me. The thoughts of a brain do not directly translate to communication. I’m a fiction writer. I know how genius thoughts can be. Great ideas are so motivating! Then, I sit down to make them corporeal… lots of nothing tends to come out. There’s nothing really there. Trust me when I say, if it’s not put down in some concise manner, visually or vocally, it’s not real. Those brilliant thoughts are not what you think.
Journaling fleshes this all out. Journaling forces these ideas through questions whose answers explain much. Only when we figure out WHY we think things can we judge how valid they are. So much of what’s in my head is not honest or valuable. So much is just fear or misunderstanding or ignorance based on random facts(?) and encounters. So many are based on points made by people who didn’t know what they were talking about.
Effect or Affect?
I already feel better and more alive, more joyful and hopeful and just more like the person I was supposed to be after only a handful of sessions in front of these blank pages. Have I shown up every day? No. Do I not feel like it? Most of the time. There is so much farther for me to travel. So much more to uncover. There is still the work of creating a real habit out of it. Of remembering it’s working even when I think I don’t have time for it.
How to Journal
My first few journaling sessions were tedious. I literally did not know what to write. I was journaling for a particular reason, but the how of drawing that out – even still – is daunting. My underlying point is to connect with my Divine Self. To practice SATYA; to be truthful in my intention in all I do. Along this path, I know I’ll flesh out my true self. What can I possibly say that will sift through the layers of bullshit pretending to be me? What do I need to talk about to burrow into the real me? I won’t know until I get there. I won’t know until I let the ideas turn to precise thoughts.
One of my major problems lies in these questions of how to get there. I am horrible at enjoying the journey. I am goal-oriented, so find I’m often looking up and out. I need to see the destination before I trust I should even start a journey. If I have no clear action plan, if that plan does not align with the goal, I’ll sit around on my PS4 for months before I think to do anything about something I want/should/need to do. So here I am, staring at a blank page, needing to know which is the most efficient thing to talk about to get me there.
Any step will start it. EVERY path leads there. Sure, some ways are faster. Some tracks are more treacherous, have more distractions, more shiny baubles to make us forget. Others have lower lows and higher highs. ANY STEP. Just do it. Just show up, and things start to happen.
I listened to this. I did it. I just started writing, not even sure what I was talking about. Those words turned into a point that forced me to look and see, so more words flowed. Soon I had pages filled. Years of half-assed, kind-of-pretending to soul search and be better had primed me for this. I was more than ready to get into it. That’s not to say this will be/is one of those fast paths. Remember, a decade to get here. A decade to finally step onto the path ( *drawn-out breath* *ignore the frustration* ).
I don’t know if journaling into your inner thoughts is difficult and tedious. Those who are smarter and braver than me, who didn’t have pride keeping them back, maybe you found journaling hard at first because you had more to get through. Maybe the opposite. Tell me about your journey.
I now have two journals (composition notebooks). One I call my mind dump. The other is where I follow along to a prompt series. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. Often, I need direction. Especially a direction that is an approach to lead me where I want to go. Most days, I do both. Even when I don’t think I know what to say, a cascade of thoughts comes pouring out as soon as I write a few words. Thoughts that dive through the crap I’ve wrapped around myself. Ideas that get to the heart of me. Ideas that may scrape away the things I think bother me, so I can let go and figure things out from an honest, kind, helpful, and genuine place. SATYA.
Do you journal? How have you found it helpful to your process/creativity/life/et al.?
If you have a favorite prompt or topic that has helped you really flesh yourself out, I’d love to hear it! Leave me a comment, or contact me through my contact page 🙂
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