it was the best of times – if only somebody would have told me (life update # 3)

Aloha!

Thank you for clicking on over here. Welcome welcome, or welcome back.

It’s been too long since I wrote on here, and so I thought y’all deserved a brief update on my doings and ponderings and all.

jesus

I’m half-tempted, out of sheer habit more than anything else, to entertain some self-pity and/or self-loathing for the fact that I expected to be blogging more consistently. It’s remarkably easy to come down on yourself with some exaggerated condemnation.

That knee-jerk reaction seems to reveal an odd contradiction at play, where you expect great, epic things from yourself in one breath, and then in the next, you eagerly relish in being a hopeless failure… Maybe this odd parallel of expectations, being both great and awful, holds some answers for people like me, and maybe you, who seem so often trying to battle through a chronic frustration in life?

BUT – I have done that song & dance many times for other imagined shortcomings, and I’m going to pursue this radical new notion of just shrugging it off and carrying on with it. I’ve spent quite enough of my life bemoaning the past – including regretting all the time I spent regretting things! – that I know for certain I can spoil myself with this tact of just accepting what is and acknowledging that I am doing my best.

Just be cool, archie, okay?

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SO – in keeping with my goal to write shorter posts, let’s get straight into it, shall we??


1. I’ve started substitute teaching!

And yea, it’s amazing fun. Not only do I get paid to play with kids all day, there are very little “job-ish” responsibilities tied onto it (like you know, annoying bosses, endless emails, boring office politics). Plus, I seem to have a solid grasp of grade 1-5 math, science and writing – yay archie!

I love writing children’s fiction. So duh – spending my days around hundreds of kids with silly thoughts and wandering imaginations is a very welcome space for my weird self to hang and to perculate my writing ideas.

Like, I’m getting paid to read Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss to kids!

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2. Less internet, more reading & listening.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the Internet up North is big time expensive.

And I am finally seeming to adapt to this reality by spending far less time online and more of it with my nose buried in a book – including:

  • classic science fiction & fantasies, including audiobooks for night-time listening,
  • great anthologies rented from the local library,
  • and also some great non-fiction self-help for writers, read on my phone when I have a few minutes to spare while on the go.

Basically, I’ve begun again my habit of heavy reading, enough to be tackling a lot of the books that have been sitting on my to-read list for quite some time.
And crossing stuff off an old to-do list is extra sweet.

3. Fewer contests, more writing.

Okay, yes, this 8-3 day job has slowed my writing output…
But it has also helped me, you know, not fall hopelessly into poverty.
That’s a fair deal, right?

With this, I’ve happily switched tacts in my writing strategy.

While living in Toronto last year, I was focusing on producing short stories, largely in hopes of entering them into some writing contests to win the cash prizes. I needed money to help make rent each month, so that was a way I helped make ends meet.

Now, with a stable income, I have been able to focus more on my larger novels.
Three of whom really hold my heart and imagination, such that I positively love to see each of them growing day by day, line by line.
So that is really wonderful stuff!

4. I’m learning to stop waiting for happiness, and just live my life.

I don’t expect to grasp all the words to capture what I mean right here, but I want to start trying, and for now, that looks like me just acknowledging that there is no point in life when someone is going to come up out of the blue to shake you and shout into your face, telling you that you’re done, you can be happy now, you passed the test (or if this does ever happen, be wary because they are probably trying to sell you something or flatter you for some other reason).

Maybe this idea came to me during one of my free writing sessions, but I gradually had this realization that waiting for something called “happiness” or “success” or whatever is all just a lost cause, a fool’s errand. Life doesn’t work like a book or video game, where you reach the end of a chapter or level and you’re told here is your checkpoint, good job.

No, the arrival of some external power to change me, reward my labour and focus – or to otherwise punish our vices for that matter – is not something I really believe in, because I think all that stuff hides inside us.
Isn’t that scary then, if we have nothing to help us, to rely upon?
Well, that’s why we need to learn to rely on ourselves.

We are the source of our dissatisfaction in life, but we are also the catalyst for changing that right now, even as you inhale your next breath of air.

I’m living my dream career – writing fiction & working with kids – and living in an amazing part of the world, surrounded by lovely people, and I could easily still be miserable if I wanted to be miserable. If I chose to shift my attention to different things – like how I still have student debt, or how the world is a fucking hot mess, or that I’m not a published author or… – and to obsess over those things until I lost all peace of mind, I’d surely be a fucking wreck and no good company for anyone.

But I’m grateful for what I have to live by.
And 
I don’t mean to reduce the complexities and traumas of living life to some offensively easy recipe of “just be happy”, but that’s mighty close to what it is, in a way.
The answer to finding a good balance in life should be simple, shouldn’t it?

enlighten

Did you follow all that? 
Did I lose anyone a few paragraphs back?

Let me reiterate then: finding success and happiness in your life means doing things that make you grow & excel, and doing those things in ways that keep you soft & loving. Maybe you have already found some of that, or maybe there have been some clear signs in front of your face for a while now, but because you keep thinking that your cue for being allowed to be happy & successful looks like an exit ramp and not an elephant, or looks like a pay cheque and not laughing as you brush your teeth tonight, well then, you may never find it after all. So stop looking for something and just see what you see.

As always, thanks for reading.

archie.

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