|A little smoke in Cairo...|
A few months back my most recent long-term relationship came to a sudden end because, and I quote, "Your writing and traveling come first." This is not to come down on the relationship or the person I shared it with, because I have nothing but fondness for the time we spent together (countless weekends in NYC, weeks in California, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, ...). We had fun, spent a lot of money, and spoiled our daughter (we used to be married and this was our second time around as a couple, this time unmarried). It was worth ever minute and every penny.
But like many relationships, this one started going south when my partner started feeling resentment towards the time I spent writing and traveling (I'm gone on average three months per year searching for literary inspiration). I'm sure there are a million other little justifiable reasons too, but for the sake of this piece lets concentrate on the writing/traveling thing.
I found this notion that I would put any one thing first so perplexing that I asked her on three distinct and separate occasions. "Are you sure this is what you want?" The answer I consistently received was not only the same, Yes, but also the reiteration of the writing coming first thing. Fair enough. But my response was also always the same too. Not only do I not think of life in linear terms where something like work can be equated with the human objects of my affection, I also don't consider life a zero sum game, at least when it comes to divvying out attention to loved ones.
I don't have a notepad upon which is written "Important things in my life in descending order..."
3. The significant other...
Life for me doesn't work that way. If I keep a list it is very short, because all the things that are important to me are both first and last. So what comes first to me? Everything. Everything carries equal importance. NOTE: Of course, when it comes to a loved one's health and well-being, naturally you gotta drop the pen and paper and come to that loved one's rescue. Don't confuse my philosophy for a lack of priorities. But I think you get my point by now.
|Burano, not so long ago...|
Sometimes people wonder why their lives never change. Why they're not living the life they wish they could be living. Why the grass is greener across the street. Why they are always tired, or sad, or sick, or not looking forward to tomorrow. Why the weight never comes off, why things always stay the same, why they need Ambien to sleep at night. It's important first, to take responsibility for your life (that's a given). But it's even more important to make decisions and stick to them.
Don't sell yourself short. Don't take that low paying job just because it's easy. Don't date the ex just because it's comfortable and easy. Don't use people. That's selling yourself way too short, and it's the stuff that bleeds the soul.
Way back when, when I decided to become a full-time author, I was laughed at. Laughed at by some of the people closest to me. To them, it was an impossible dream (Some are still laughing after close to a million books sold, hitting the major lists, winning the Thriller Award and the PWA Shamus Award...). On top of that, I was the heir to a perfectly good construction company that would make me a millionaire. But it would make me miserable and fat in the process. That said, I pursued my dream. I did it because it was hard. I did it because it was impossible. I did it because staying in the construction business would have been the easy way out. I did it and I succeeded (In terms of being satisfied, I'm not there yet, and I probably will never reach an end to my literary journey, but that's for another essay). I did it, because I made it my number one priority while balancing other number one priorities.
If you want to be a writer, even if you have no idea how to go about it, then make the decision and get to work. Make it one of the most important aspects of your well-rounded life. If you want to travel to exotic distant lands, then buy a plane ticket and worry about the money later. Make it a priority. Don't listen to the naysayers or the worriers. Don't listen to your sig other if he or she doesn't like it. Travel, even if it means you break up. It's important to get out of the house, sometimes for weeks or months at a time. You will thank yourself on your deathbed that you decided to sleep in the Sahara beside a pack of camels, or that you nearly drowned while swimming in the Ganges, or how freezing it was deep inside a cave in Belize. Sure it cost you a relationship or two, but you lived your life the way it was meant to be lived.
If you want to be rich, find different sources of passive income that make you money while you sleep. This is the Internet age and there's no excuse for not making money these days. Don't depend on others. If you want to be in love, find the right person for you. Someone who shares your passions, your belief system, and encourages you with your goals (you must do the same for him/her). Make all these things the most important thing in your life.
Life is all about challenges but you must first make the decision to meet those challenges head-on. Not cower under a blanket in your bed for days on end. Because you have a finite number of heartbeats, you owe it to yourself to make many things come first. Your work, your love(s), your God, your travel, your dogs, your house, your fill-in-the-blank____________________.
Only when you come to realize that life isn't about someone else putting you first, but instead, you putting you first while putting others first, will you begin to realize the great possibilities that exist everywhere and in everything (Yah, you might have to read that last sentence two or three times before it sinks in...).