Addicted to the destination...

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I often live life on autopilot. Literally making a list and checking it twice, barely registering the moments and things I'm actually doing on the list. Despite my best efforts to take time out and meditate or exercise, things that force you to acknowledge the present moment, I still find that I'm not always living my life. So focused on the endgame that I'm missing all the nows.

So I'm off to the place where I feel most like myself and in the moment. Elsewhere! But more specifically, travelling. The big trip I ended up deciding on is to explore a little more of South America. I'm craving the vast expanses of the salt fields and the cracking monster slabs of ice in Patagonia. Watching stars in the Chilean desert and enjoying some quiet afternoons journalling in remote cafes, interspersed between sharing (well-cooked) meals with a group of like-minded people from around the world.
That feeling of pure travel freedom
I've been going through a period that I would call a slow burn. I have so many things I want to accomplish, some within my control and most of the big ones outside, And I'm burnt out. I find it so strange that, as adults, we never get a real break until retirement. We go from school (where most of us have one or multiple part-time jobs), to summer jobs, to our full-time jobs. And other than a week or two break here or there, we just ride the wave to retirement. It seems a bit messed up, no? 

My first time backpacking in 2001 (My Swiss roommate wishing me adieu)!
At work we all spew these work-life balance mantras. Mental health awareness is the theme of the day. But most people I know are incredibly stressed in their jobs. Working all hours. It's not healthy. We talk a good game but experience something different. And there's no off ramp. It's either do the thing, or burn out and deal with that. People still find it easier to say they have a physical over mental health issue.

In any case, I'm really excited to take a chunk of time off. My first in over 12 years. 

This theme of learning to enjoy the moments, instead of simply focusing on the goal is a big theme in my book "I love here." I just finished draft 9. And yes, it's taken seemingly forever. 

Trying to write a first book. Taking real life events and plotting them on a story arch that rings close to the truth but also takes the reader on an appropriate journey is one thing. This was relatively enjoyable and a fun creative journey for me. But it took a couple of courses and a lot of planning. The middle bit, the writing itself, was the romantic bit. Where words were cheap as the coffee I drank in artsy coffee shops while I watched the world go by and put keystrokes to blank screens, against the backdrop of indie soundtracks. Bilss. This is the stereotypical, joyful, part of writing for me. Writing without boundaries. Streams of consciousness molded into something mostly readable. 

But this last bit. Oh this last, long, seemingly endless bit (and so boring that I would leave it without any movement for 6-month stretches) has been the hardest. I wish I could have been a bit more disciplined. The last thing I wanted to do in my spare time after an often demanding day job, was read and re-read the same story, deciding which bits of my life were not interesting enough to leave in. Once you start cutting, there's almost no stopping you and it really takes a different skill set to know what should stay and what should go. And don't even get me started on the grammar. I honestly feel, having taught English in Japan, that we do a pretty poor job teaching English grammar. So every time I read a new version I'd find an impossible number of mistakes that I hadn't caught the first, second, fifth, ninth time around. 

But alas, though I don't feel like I'm a good enough editor to ever really be satisfied that it's ready to share, I need to let this thing go at some point. For better or for worse, my eyes are ready to look at something else. My brain is lusting to work on other writing. Even though I say it's ready for some first readers, I'm still finding it hard to contemplate handing it over to people that will judge. It's a really vulnerable thing. And I don't think we ever get over this fear. But I've already held on to it way longer than needed and likely stunted it's growth. It needs some fresh views. And I need some different views. 

I wrote my first synopsis on I Love Here (a play on an "Engrish" statement one of the students in Japan said to my dear friend Laura) a crazy long number of years ago, and the way the book turned out is so much different than I originally planned. It's definitely been a journey. To get a feel for what it's all about, it's a creative non-fiction coming-of-age, with major themes around love, life purpose and mindfulness. Think Bridget Jones in Japan with the insight of Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love. That gives you a sense of the audience, the feel, and the lessons learned that I am continuing to learn from today. 

I'm not going to lie, I feel like just quitting it all and chilling in my spare time. Going on more dates. Sitting on more patios. But I'm going to trudge on for a bit longer. At least get first readers. At least explore some publishing options. And then I'll feel like I've done a good, complete job of it and can move on with no regrets. 

In other writing news, I had a fun secret project that I was really passionate about. But it isn't really going as planned so I need to reassess that one when I get back. It's a blog, with what I think is a relevant and untapped topic, but it's really hard to promote something when your name is not attached to it. I might take the content and turn it into a novel. Something a little new and exciting. 

But for now, I just need to spend some time living my life, in the present and in the world as opposed to in my mind and on a screen. To find the joy again in all of the moments. The last time I truly felt ecstatic with my life in a perfect moment was while riding a bike in Japan. The feeling of being exactly in the right place at the right time in my life. I haven't felt that in a while. I'm trying to control way too much in my life and I just want to let it all go for a few weeks. Embrace uncertainty. Feel the wind in my hair and enjoy the energy of that instead of getting annoyed that it's messing up my hair. 


Anonymous said…
Have a lovely time!