Q: The question I’m asking these days (meaning since about 2011 or 2012, the point at which I stopped teaching, so non-monumental and easy a choice that I have no idea when it really “happened”) is: How do I make my own way in the world? How do I successfully make a living, based on my own definition, as the ruler of my own destiny? What do I want and how do I get it and what are my intentions and desires and initiatives?
A: The answer is to visualize what you want as clearly as you can, and you will get it. Any time you fail to get an outcome, examine the message you are putting out to the universe, since you can make things happen if you want them in the right way. Probably, you didn’t want it enough, or as much as you thought, or it’s not the right desire for you. Work on wanting it better or want something else.
A: The answer is to set goals; dreams without targets will vaporize in a strong wind. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?
A: The answer is in the journey itself. Live into the moment, be fully present, embrace the now.
A: The answer is to choose how you want to feel. Choose your response — humans have “response-ability,” which animals lack — and allow that to guide you. At every day, rather, in every moment, you can make a new choice. Making the choice is the point.
A: The answer is to do on one thing. It can be a big thing, and if you have the right thing in mind and keep it in mind in the right way, you’ll keep comparing your choices to the big picture and that will help you keep well-aligned and in focus. As my Aunt Laura said, “The secret to life is one thing. Only nobody knows what it is.”
A: The answer is to be authentic. You can’t be anybody but yourself, so focus on self-comprehension and sharing your unfiltered person, the one you were born to be. Don’t worry about what other people say or whether anyone likes you. The more you are yourself, the better.
A: The answer is to get in touch with your natural, feminine power. This may be as true for men as well as for women, but I’m really talking about women here. Resisting our body’s deep yin power keeps us from fully connecting with the power we’re born with. On the other hand, defining ourselves in any moment can be too yang. Good luck with this.
A: The answer is to express yourself creatively. For the person who already defines herself as creative, the path may not always be clear, but keep returning to your art and make the art come out truthfully. The rest will follow.
A: Do what you love, the money will follow. I own a book by that title, and I’ve never read it, but I believe it. Sort of. If I believed in it better, or had a better relationship with the energy of money, I’d be richer now. Think and grow rich. Another book I should read.
A: The answer is to look within for the answer. The problem with this one is I think it’s actually true. The other problem is that the world exists outside my belly button, and while I may have the amazing luxury of perpetual self-examination, one thing I don’t want to find there is complete self-centeredness. Yet if I look within and all I see is myself, can I force myself to see others as clearly and meaningfully, or do I just fake it, or is the “real world” as much of a figment as my self-narrative?
A: The answer is God. Or drugs. Or therapy. Or meditation. Or activism. Or hiking. Or Tantra. Etc.
A: The answer is NOT to compare yourself to others. I like to ask the question: What Would Pearl Do if She Were Here? This is fun because of the echo of WWJD, but even more because by asking the question in the 3rd person as if it were a conditional query (which couldn’t be asked if the query were true and real), the distance I get from myself sometimes gives me room for insight where other options mightn’t. Of all the options named above, real and facetious, this comes closest to an operating principal.
A: Be yourself; all other identities are taken. Or, as Polonius had it (I’ve been described as Polonius-like), “This above all: To thine own self be true / And it must follow, as they night the day / Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Or woman, or person of color or disability.
A: Remember all the disclaimers, the limitations, the prejudices you’re capable of. Rehearse, reflect, refine, incorporate, and then just go for it.
Last night I wrote down most of this list. Then my son sat down and we talked in a bare and direct and unadorned fashion for about as long as we could stand it. I told him I favor sincerity, though like him, I balance myself on the edge of sounding insincere when I am at my most honest and clearly expressive, as he is too. This is not the answer, there is no “the” answer, there is at best improvisation and shifting moods.
There is me, writing these words down with utter self-consciousness, trying to feel as self-confident as publishing a rough draft daily appears, while layering over a cover of language that conceals as much as it reveals.
Today, I can live with that.