288. Seeing Behind The Void

Had a really trying day, where I fixed some stuff for clients and tried to promote my live-talks and felt all round rotten and drained. In fact: on the verge of giving up and going home many times.

I didn’t. I forced myself to keep going, even though I made mistakes and was continually dissatisfied with my work – for example, the emails I sent out to promote the live-talk about Robinson. They didn’t look good and no matter what new variation I tried, something was always off, or I’d make stupid mistakes – like typos or even addressing the wrong receiver in a copied mail. Damn.

But I kept it up and finished and got something done, which was my intention. I don’t know what hit me – again – this day, but I am old enough to know that in such situations it can pay to ignore how poorly you think you fare and just get SOME work done. That will make you feel better overall.

However, it really takes that insight – and force of will. So it is not easy.

All through the day I had this persistent nagging voice in my head that I would never make regular good money on my business, at least in the 4000 USD/month average category which is about what I think we need in this country to lead a relatively good family-life, move to more than a two-roomer and save a bit for pension and pay off debts. Nothing left out, I hope …

The voice, which was not nice at all, also made me feel that in general I had failed in my life to live up to my potential, but every time I asked myself what the hell that potential was, it went quiet. And then came up again.

After all, I am totally clear I don’t want to be a politician, I don’t want financial or cultural position – like being a famous author or CEO. Don’t want none of that.

Just to make my little business work, scale it some – then earn enough as said above and preferably a bit more to donate to charities that we choose.

I will do some art on the side, when I find out more exactly what it is I want, but I am clear that that process can take a long time. In previous posts I have discussed my de-programming from all sorts of faulty motives here, like wanting fame and money, so it is a long process to find a purer motivation, if one can call it that. All I know is that I need to do some art to feel whole, but what it is I don’t exactly know yet.

And I am okay with being, I suppose, a rather sad case for having reached this age with all that potential in terms of drawing and storytelling and not being able to define what I want. I am okay with being messed up in my head and heart about it. I really am.

I have found that that is the only way for my soul to gradually come out if its hiding and bring me nearer to what I really want. Let go of judgement and let all thoughts and feelings be there and see what shows up.

It is a long journey and I am sad that I have had to take it, because there was so much promise 20 years ago, it seemed, when I wanted to draw comics and write books and whatnot. But so be it.

So art and quest for power and prestige – I know exactly what I want here. I even know how many things I don’t know, especially as regards art. And I am, as said, okay with it.

Why does that voice still have power? Why is it still possible for something or other to trigger and enhance it and make me feel rotten that I have not ‘achieved’ more at this point in time? In terms of earning money at its simplest level, yes, but also in terms of some kind of undefinable position or mark on the world via politics, via finances, via culture and/or art?

Or in the latter case, some kind of truly satisfying self-expression project that I actually do and complete, even if nobody hears much of it?

You could argue, that there is truly something inside me that lacks – that I do have a true need that needs to be addressed. I do have true regrets – yes, that much is true. Especially about the choices I made earlier in life that distracted me from discovering my full art-potential.

But then again, these choices were made for good reasons, because I needed to work more with and for people and do something that felt more purposeful and felt more like it could have an immediate and concrete effect on people’s lives. And I am okay with that, too.

So perhaps the status is this: I am okay with my choices in all of these areas of life I have described above – money and financial power, cultural power and position and politics. I have gained nothing in these areas of life, not anything worth writing about. And even now I am struggling to make a living income as it is in my country, and defining what the hell I want to do in terms of art to address the true need I do have to … do something.

So it’s not very impressive and it is a kind of mess, and it doesn’t always help to remind myself that I have been a good spouse (most of the time), a good friend, a good son and a good father. That I have been true to what I thought was the best and most idealistic line at any given time, and that when I have been confused and tried something that was not healthy for me I have learned and I have let it go.

It is as if there is still a layer in my mind and a part of my heart that is oblivious to these benefits, to these experiences, to these nuances, to these acceptances. It just wants me To Have Done More. To Have Been More.

Without really explaining what that ‘More’ is … because, as said, when I try to ask what it is … then the answers quickly evaporate.

Could there be some childhood-‘programming’ at play here? Something I have not completely grown up from? Something that no longer serves me, like that idea that I had to do something ‘great’ with my art – something that impressed many people or at least developed my skills?

I have addressed that last one in a post not so many weeks ago, and I found that that drive – which constantly let me to look for projects I could draw – and failing to find them  … that drive was probably a left-over from school when I was told how damn good I was a drawing. Just like I was told how damn good I was in school overall. And that I should use these talents.

And then a part of me felt guilty for apparently not having used them ‘enough’ – whatever that is. And that part kept looking for ways to compensate.

Not so much in academics, although that ‘guilt-drive-motivation’ certainly has reared its head.

But more in terms of art – specifically with regard to drawing. As said, I looked here constantly for some project or other and felt bad for not prioritizing my drawing anymore, even though I had lost interest in so many other aspects of drawing. Even though my life was and is different.

In that case I decided that there was indeed one driver – one ‘bad’ motivation – that still overshadowed all the good motivations, and that driver was the voice from my parents, and teachers at school. “You should develop your talent”. And the meaning I derived from it: “I am only worth something if I develop my talent”.

I confused this with a deep, innate need in my soul. I thought for awhile and I think I wrote as much that my Soul had a need to draw.

But maybe it was just my little scared ego that had not quite come all the way from primary school, at least not a part of it.

I know that is hard, but as I wrote then, it felt right. And once I had realized that and let go of any pretension that I ‘should’ draw – ever again … once that happened I actually felt relieved. And in recent months I’ve felt a stronger urge to just draw again, for the sake of it, no matter if it comes to anything or not. And that, at least, is partially what I am looking for – in terms of drawing.

And so now on a shitty day like this we have a haunting voice inside me that tells me I have not ‘achieved enough’ in other areas of life – earning money, getting to a position of power and influence.

Not king of the world, mind you – but more than a 43-old who earns maybe 1500-2000 USD a month in a country where that is not near enough and who is constantly looking for work for his business.

But again, when I ask that voice: “What is enough?” “What power and influence?” “Which position?” … then there are few answers.

There isn’t any soul-searing vision of some deep primary life-purpose that suddenly reveals itself.

There are a few suggestions from inside like

… “earning more money – at least x amount per month”

… “having a more successful company with my own office”

… “having written an actual novel – or a series”

Or something else dangerously close to the banal and pathetic!

And I can deconstruct it all and say, again, that I don’t really want it.

I don’t want to be a politician with “influence”, because I don’t like politics and I don’t believe in its effects very much.

I don’t want to be a “CEO of some major company” because I just want to earn money enough – like maybe 5000 USD on average per month, to save for my old age and donate some and give to my family here and now and make them feel good in a country with the living expenses that is normal here. Etc. Etc.

I certainly don’t want to be a “famous author” or even an author – of novels. I have no ideas for stories left that can fit into such formats. I am not good – in fact, I am not able it seems – to write novels. I have learned that fame and money are not very good motivations to mix with the overall motivation to write a book, which may or may not be some good idea for a story.

And then there is all the rest about art, specifically drawing, which I tire too much now to try to reiterate.

This post has gone one long enough, but it lands in the same place:

I should not have a ‘need to achieve more’ – at least not when it comes to such ephemeral goals as prestige, power, influence, fame, money, etc.

I should and do need to achieve more when it comes to making some kind of good difference for people in the world, preferably as many as possible, and preferably more than my immediate family – although they will always rank high on my list.

I think The Blog is a way to that goal. I think that Char and I can still earn enough money in some kind of future to not only take care of ourselves, Jay and save a bit, but also donate to some of the charities we have been talking about. Maybe even making our own, at least on a small scale.

So there is both a more idealistic and a more concrete purpose here – and both are clear. And both are enough.

But still the voice goes on about me not having ‘achieved enough’.

So what is this voice? Even if I make allowances for low blood-sugar or some metaphysical explanation of why the emotions behind it flared up today?

Is it a real voice, addressing some deep yet unrecognized need in my soul? To ‘do more’ with my life – and try to escape my current situation, so to speak. Or change it?

Is it a faux voice, something from my childhood that I need to definitively leave behind – as I did with the prodding inner voice about how I should “develop my talent for drawing or else … “?

Or is it a bit … mixed up inside me? As usual?

It has to be possible to find out, and move on from this. I am so sick and tired of having this voice inside me.

It has to be possible to find out a way to either address it – if it has real value. Or move beyond it, if it has not.

Or maybe it is possible to live with it, as part of a human condition that is true for us all?

We all have been affected – somehow – while growing up. We all have something different that we bring into this life, whether soul or genetics or both.

Meaning: We always have some ego with us – some striving for fickle things like fame, or position, or money or all kinds of other superficial and temporary achievements.

Achievements which can be good under some conditions, but which are not ends in themselves. And which more often than not betray us.

Maybe I should just accept that – for whatever reason – that is still part of me. And then leave it at that and make my best efforts to move on and realize some of the purpose, like The Blog, or that charity project. Purpose that I know to be real and good for me, no discussion.

Once that realization is bigger and fills out much of the current vacuum then the voice should have less power.

So perhaps the voice addresses a true need after all. For I feel I am not doing enough to promote The Blog (as mentioned earlier) and I feel that is a problem.

I also miss doing something real for charity again, and preferably with Char. Or at least have some definite goal or vision for that part of our lives, instead of just focusing – as is difficult not to – on the daily problems and challenges, esp. with an infant son and irregular income.

So perhaps the voice is calling my attention to a true need, but it does so in the wrong way. It fills the actual vacuum of my life right now with calls to do something that is superficial.

But I would not be happier if I wrote some new fantasy-series that only entertained people and earned money but made no difference in their lives.

So it is an old habitual reaction to think that I will.

But if I can recognize that and try not to fight it and then move on to the things that I know to be good and true to do … then I might get somewhere.

Because there are true lacks of achievement in my life. That is … true.

The trick is to identify them.

And even such a long, bloated stream-of-thought-post has just made a dent in that mission. It has made me a little wiser now – to ‘write it out’. And good for that.

But I would hard-pressed to say I am proud of that ‘achievement’.

Even so, I recognize that it is good. It has given me something to work with – an insight that was obscure to me before.

So now the work can begin in earnest.