Two different worlds we live in. That’s the 1950s tune my head and heart have been singing to each other in a growing rift that’s been tearing me apart. So I’ve made the hard decision to start letting the heady world go and see where my heart might lead. It’s scaring the shit out of me.
Am I avoiding something I should stick with to “succeed,” my head keeps wondering? Or am I veering back into territory where I really belong? I’m still not sure if it’s a siren or wake-up call I’m heeding here and I have no idea yet where I’m headed next. But every attentive step I take in the new direction—or away from the old one anyway—will likely help me find out, and may just be of use to you, too. Phew!
As Maurie wrote in a recent comment, ours is a breadcrumb journey. For us spiritual seekers, one crummy (or succulent) clue leads to another, and we must pay super close attention if we’re not to miss our way. Because I’ve spent so much time on-line hoping for virtual miracles, I haven’t done enough of that real world attention-paying lately. But better late than never, I’m freeing myself up to look down for those telltale—tell me where I’m going!—crumbs.
I’m not going to the Greek island I wrote about (though on this cold February day, Greece is looking good). No, the first move I’m making—the one I need to make far more than changing up my geography—is this: specific steps to tear myself away from the all-too-promising (and none-too-delivering) virtual world, which has caught me up and made me lose my way.
Letting the virtual world go is a twofold plan: first, to reduce a source of ongoing psychic pain; and second, to free up time and space in myself and my life to sink into the less familiar and, therefore, often terrifying inner world, also known as the fertile void. It seems absurdly obvious, so please don’t laugh. But how can I find out what’s truly right for me in this next—and next-to-last—stage of my life, when I am unhappily preoccupied with what is not?
So first things first—to disentangle from all that doesn’t serve me. After another “big talk” with Trond, who is tired of watching me spend so much time to so little effect, I decided to unsubscribe from nearly every last blog, newsletter and virtual group I’d signed up for since my book came out. And Facebook might just be next. (I won’t even tell you the challenge I faced in alerting “influential” people that I don’t want to stay on their lists; but face it I did, and it’s done.) Here’s how I came to this (for me) radical disengagement.
On a coaching call the day before my talk with Trond, I’d owned up to something I’d been pretending and hoping wasn’t so. (Coaching is good that way!) I had to admit that being on those e-lists I’d signed up for—hoping they’d help me sell books—was making me sick. My coach pressed me to drop into my body and remember how it felt to check morning email. And there was no question about the “sinking feeling” I instantly named. (While part of this was jealousy about other bloggers’ success, which I may explore next time, the issue goes deeper than that.)
I hated seeing those emails I’d signed up for, let alone reading them. Some were from exemplary “spiritual” bloggers who play by (and in some cases create) blogging rules. They offer tips, write in short, simple paragraphs and do what it takes to build big subscriber lists. Even after I realized their rules weren’t right for me (and that took a while), I strung them along. Maybe I’d write a “guest post” for them, or they would finally read and promote my book to their followers.
But as time passed and very little happened, there was no reason to hang on but vain hope. After all, I’ve been around the block several times, as a seeker and a writer. I didn’t need the spiritual guidance of those bloggers, or to emulate their writing. And I was deeply disheartened that hardly any of them returned the favor of subscribing to my blog or checking out my work, which I’d done for many of them. As Trond put it, dogged as I was, I was barking up the wrong tree.
In addition to those blogger lists, I’ve also put the kibosh on the “experts” who offer endless and redundant book marketing, social media, and related advice. Much of it is so intuitive I was already doing it (like build relationships and give—duh!). Other of their ideas (like frequent email or cell phone “blasts”) seem pushy. This crowd sends out newsletters, offers teleseminars and online courses, and/or sells ebooks, some of that for free. Most mean well and all agree that to do marketing right and make a dent, you need to be at it practically 24/7 for as long as it takes.
I gave it my best shot, kids, reading much of what arrived for the better part of last year. I tried on some of the best advice. I even signed up for a few seminars (both spiritual and book-promotional in nature) hoping for sparks to ignite. My ego really wanted to play by the rules and fit in. But I just can’t, or, to put it more honestly, I won’t. It got too damned hard trying to force my deep square peg into that shallow round hole. Little that I read resonated and almost none of it was me. No wonder I’ve been feeling sick! Little surprise either that the strategy didn’t work.
How did I let a year slip by? And why do I—and perhaps you, too, sometimes—get so convinced we should be listening to people out there that we fail to listen to the singular, often wiser person inside—the one who knows us and our heart’s desires best? Anybody else here not listening to yourself enough? And has the onslaught of other voices—whether via the Internet, out in the real world or in your own head—been part of your problem, too? We’d all benefit from hearing.
With some luck and pluck, and your invaluable comments, let’s continue this conversation next time. Many thanks as always for being here. And, please, if you’re touched by what you read, I’d be hugely grateful if you’d share this blog link, via email and, yes, even Facebook, with friends real and virtual. (And, hey, you marketing experts, this is about as pushy as I am going to get!)
Categories: A Writer's Life, Self-Care, Surrender