Not Feeling It

Equanimity is a skill that must be cultivated and the one I’m working on the most these days.

Ani Pema Chodron shares a story where her teacher said to her:

“We are always in transition. The sooner you realise this, the happier you will be.”

We are always in transition but sometimes it’s more obvious than others. Through my practice I’ve come to really value the more obvious moments of transition in my life. I value them because they highlight the possibility and potential of our unwritten future.

I am currently living in Canada, about to depart for two months in Australia with my wife. I’ll be back in Canada come May, but for how long is uncertain.

During this time of such obvious uncertainty (for there is no certainty in life, not really) I am in an ideal position to work on two key projects:
1. Crowdfunding a book.
2. Establishing myself as a freelance consultant.

It’s this uncertainty, this transitory state, that has made these two things possible. I cannot rely on someone else to employ me whilst I’m figuring out my next permanent placement (either the US or Canada) and I don’t want to. I have put off being the author I always imagined for long enough.

My hand has been forced and the situation is quite ideal. Whilst I am not rooted in one particular country — a Canadian-Brit citizen bouncing around the planet due to the arising of circumstances — I have all the support and time I need to plunge headlong into both ventures.

The result is, however, a lack of structure to my day, which leaves me slightly unhinged. I’m learning how to ‘fit it all in’ according to my personal job description and appraisal expectations. It’s not that I don’t occupy my time. It’s that the abundance of ways I can occupy my time, the amount I want to get done and the time I have to do it in, doesn’t always match up.

I am striving to find balance between the work I expect myself to do and the breaks I require in order to not burn out. I garner no enjoyment from watching television, playing video games or mindlessly scrolling through a Social Media feed to ‘kill time’. In fact, I would say I’m outright averse to such activities. However, I do get great enjoyment and relaxation when writing, reading or creating art. Whilst reading Dharma sustains my practice and yes, I do occasionally sell some art, I never feel obliged to do either. They are activities free of any expectation.

Interestingly, however, writing has recently lost this quality of enjoyment for me.

I’m of the Livejouranl/Diaryland generation, which are exactly as they sound: personal accounts written, usually, off the cuff and published with little or no editing. This way of blogging appealed to me, although it wasn’t always healthy. In the early days of the Internet I often divulged far too much to too wide of an audience. I got hurt. Other people got hurt. It was all very Harriet The Spy.

But in the last year I’ve been trying to really professionalise my writing — especially since joining Medium and Huffpost.

I identify as a writer first and foremost. Before I think of myself as queer, or an activist or even as a Buddhist, I think ‘writer’. It’s why I’m crowdfunding this book. I have friends and family who have been waiting ten, fifteen, twenty-five years, to read one of my works of fiction. And I’ve been waiting, since I was six, to offer such a thing.

So this pleasurable activity, which has given me so much enjoyment all my life, is my focus in a new way. I’m going to make it happen. My stubborn Taurean mind is made up. 2016 is THE year my first fiction book is published. Which means 2016 is the year I start to generate my income from my writing.

The pressure to make money kills creativity. When we have the opportunity to get paid for what we love, there exists a fear that this will take away the enjoyment we have for it. Or that the pressure to generate the income will mean we lose the flow we normally have for creating new things.

In my case the book is written. In fact, multiple books are written. I have six completed manuscripts. I just need an editor and to project manage it to completion.

But the pressure is there and it’s affecting my ability to blog.

I’ve had a lot of great blog ideas, but as soon as I go to work on them I’m paralysed by whether or not what I’ve written is good enough. I write for a bit, walk away, and come back to see… a disjointed mess. I worry about fact checking. I’m afraid of writing an opinion piece, being misunderstood and facing a public shaming campaign that destroys the opportunity to publish before I’ve even begun. For the first time ever, I’m actually not sharing things because I know I can’t achieve perfection and my inability to do so feels like a risk.

This is why, whilst I’ve started five different pieces this month, I’ve only published two — including this one here.

I’m working on it. Working on trusting my ability, facing the fear and doing it anyway. I’m not sure why the risk suddenly feels so huge when I have years of blogging easily searchable online. It’s a strange place to be, for someone who has often compared writing to breathing. But then, there’s a difference between writing something down, and writing something down and sharing it with the world.

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Originally published at