My mother always told me, “Life is what you make of it.” She’s right. Life is a blank canvas, waiting for you to paint, sketch, or write what you want on it; if you don’t, if you lead a passive consumer life, you’ll be about as satisfied as you are when you buy That Thing featured in all the commercials – which is to say, not very – and no one will take your complaints seriously. I used to live a life that my ex called “following the path of least resistance.” I allowed life to happen willy-nilly, and I adapted accordingly, because I had no real concept of what sort of life I wanted to create. I had time, I thought, to figure it out; I was willing to spend my twenties in a haze of passivity. That passivity ultimately ended up in motherhood, marriage, divorce, and lots of permanent scars and craters in the landscape of my life. Some of the happenings were fantastically good (My son is amazing, for instance.), but if I’d taken a more direct approach to decision-making, if I’d formulated some sort of a game plan for life, my life would definitely look much different than it does, now. It doesn’t, and that’s that – but I’d like to encourage you to take control of the time that you have, because you aren’t guaranteed a later. To quote a dear friend of mine that is not on the blogosphere:
“your world, your life is yours to shape. the universe hands you a hammer with which you can tap or you can bang on your life as you see fit to make it the way you want it. but when you stop doing, when you wallow and mope and allow all the crud to bury your will, you flip that hammer around and offer the handle to whomever is out there. and when that happens, more often than not, some bastard is going to grab hold and just whack away and dent you all to hell. but even if you are lucky and some kind person takes possession, their well meaning taps inevitably also do damage — for they do not know what shape you really need and want your life to be.”
Even if you don’t know what you want, your best guess is better than anyone else’s- because it’s yours and this is your life. So, here’s the truth: you don’t have time to goof around with. Time is an illusion. You have this moment, right here- the present. You can spend it any way that you choose, but there’s no such thing as “buying time,” and this moment is irreplaceable.
“Hey man, d’you wanna buy a watch?”
“Hey no, man. Like, I’m not into time, man.”
– Tommy Chong (this is one of my earliest movie memories – thanks, Dad)
You’re better off making it up as you go along than allowing anyone else to do so. Even the most well-intentioned ‘other’ is going to have ulterior motives, good or not. During the above-mentioned passive haze of my 20s, I stumbled into a Barnes & Noble with one of my best girlfriends, and while I was scanning the shelves for Wayne Dyer books I saw this: The cover is attention-grabbing, so I picked it up and flipped it over. Imagine my surprise when I read this:
“I have seen the future of American literature and its name is Rob Brezsny.” – Tom Robbins
(Tom Robbins is my favorite author. His books are the Bible of my life, and I first encountered his work on the shelves of a thrift store- Jitterbug Perfume was the most satisfying novel I’d ever read, and it only cost me fifty cents.) I didn’t buy the book. I waited, but when I went back later it was gone. I scanned bookstore shelves for it constantly, over and over, everywhere I went. Finally, nearly two years later, I found the book in a different bookstore in a different city while shopping with the same friend. And I bought it then.
From the cover:
Human beings are selfish, small-minded, violence-prone savages, civilization is a blight on the earth, and the rising tide of chaos ensures that everything’s going to fall apart any day now. Right?
Wrong, says Rob Brezsny. In fact, evil is boring. Cynicism is stupid. Despair is lazy. The truth is that the universe is inherently friendly. Life is a sublime game created for our amusement and illumination, and it always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.
This book causes enlightened introspection, spontaneous optimism, and careful evaluation of your intentions – all in a flippant, artistic, playful manner. It’s the sort of book you might color in, underline, and write in the margins of. It is, in short, a guidebook to life. I still have two more entries inspired by this book, but for now, I’ll close with snippets of interest from the interwebs:
Stay tuned for more Pronoia and an update on my word count for NaNoWriMo.