Friday, June 25, 2010

Encouraged



Day 41 of 420 000


NOVEL WORD COUNT: Ummm… a lot




Another day. Another city. Another Starbucks. And coffee… lots of coffee. Necessary on three hours sleep. And no, I'm not procrastinating. Not exactly. Although my novel is currently open in another window and I haven't written a word yet this morning. But I'm not procrastinating. Uh-uh. Okay, maybe a little. But I was going through some of my recent posts and realized that I offered enough encouragement lately. Let's face it, one-note writers are boring, and while it's fine (and interesting) to take note of problems caused by religion or politics or annoying people, we also need a healthy dose of positivity or else why are we bothering to get up in the first place. Yesterday, as I was going through the book of Ecclesiastes in my morning reading, I came upon this verse:


"There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" (4:8)


It's the thing I love about the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Some of the verses can hit you like a hammer. Like this one. It was written three thousand years ago, but applies to so many of us. It's a question we often forget to ask ourselves, and suddenly our lives become a whirlwind of busy. We forget who we're working for, why we're working, even though we already have enough. Years go by, and suddenly we realize that we've missed the point of it all. And through it all, change becomes almost a dirty word. That is, changing our life, reordering it, becomes frightful and taboo. Much better to just stay busy. And yet, there are always people willing to challenge that notion, people willing to re-examine and slow down. I was thinking about it last night as I drove home from the boot camp I'm running. (My day job, the one that pays the bills, is working as a personal trainer.)There, I watch and listen to people who haven't worked out or challenged their diet in years, driving directly from work to the camp, making all sorts of family accommodations for a fun but brutal workout. I listen to their stories, the craziness of our typical North American lifestyle, and yet there they are, not willing to accept the status quo. It's the best part of my job. A month ago I had a good chat with a woman at the gym who'd lost over a hundred pounds. Her whole life has been changed. How she feels. How she thinks. Everything.


As a writer, I'm used to being "poor". It's a sacrifice, if you can call it that, every artist makes, so I don't miss making big bucks and being able to buy whatever I want. Walking through a mall induces no desire in me to spend money, with the exception being bookstores and electronic shops, but even then, the library works well enough and we don't have room for a 52" Sony Bravia HD television just yet anyway. That said, the question of why, as in, why am I working so hard, is just as relevant for me. Why do I want to publish my novels? Why am I driven back to the page? Is it just about me? What I love about the question is that it centers me. It reminds me that I don't have to let other people set my goals for me. It reminds me that change is always possible, so long as I'm willing to make the adjustment. I find that encouraging. This idea that tomorrow doesn't have to be a repeat of today or last week is marketed pretty heavily in the self-help sections of your local bookstores, but I think most people get discouraged by the slowness of change and give up. Anything worth pursuing requires commitment, but commitment is much easier when we answer the question of why we want to change. For whom do we toil? And why do we deprive ourselves of enjoyment?


Take some time today to answer that question, and then take a good look at your life. If you could change something, what would it be. Set it in your mind and go for it. You'll be surprised what you can accomplish.


-Steve


Note: My brilliant wife started her own fitness blog this past week. She's the best trainer I've ever seen, and her nutritional knowledge is second to none. I encourage you to take a look.