The Pursuit of Happiness

There’s a writing exercise that my mentor uses to get the fire started when imagining the world of the story.  The exercise is to do stream of consciousness writing on a topic that the writer feels strongly about.  What this is does is raise the counter argument to the opinion.  Then the writer takes this debate onto the story in a parallel vein. 

The argument is the catalyst to a dialogue between the hero and the antagonist.  Both sides have a need to be fulfilled, and they’re going to try their damndest to get what they want.

Today, I’ll indulge in something I feel strongly about.  An email sent in good will, but ending with words that made me think if what each of us were pursuing was in the best of our own interest.  The email trailed of as “just wanted to say hello..let’s try and get together sometime, when you’re not so busy…”  My knee-jerk reaction was detecting an undercurrent of complaint – “when you’re not so busy…”

What I feel strongly about is when people make demands of another person’s time to fit well into their plan.  I feel there has to be a strong mutual motivation between two people to spend time together, before the other person can begin to insinuate any demands on the other.  I think the friendship/relationship is already on a bad footing when one feels neglected and the other feels obliged to be less selfish with time, money or emotional commitment.

In this situation, I’m prepared to step away and move on because I know I can’t fulfill the expectations of the other person without trying to change, and I’m not prepared for that right now.   At the moment I’m still grounding myself to my decision to be a writer, a writer who works at a full-time job, and the regular paycheck supports the habit.  But this job does take its toll on my energy, and that’s the price I pay.

I had spent the past four years supporting the artistic pursuits of another artist, a musician, and I put my artistic aspirations on the backburner hoping that when his music career takes off then I can be the playwright. 

(In hindsight, if there is a calling to do creative work then pay heed to that voice right away, because it is a calling that leads to your fulfillment as a human being.  When you quiet down that voice then you also kill that living spirit, and your life becomes a dull routine of working to consume without fulfillment.  Empty consumerism like popcorn and high-fructose syrup.)

Career aspirations and expectations did not match reality on many levels, and this tumbled into the relationship which fell apart.  Statistically, my situation wasn’t unique, but on a personal level – it sucked.  The breakup, though anguishing and nearly breaking me, also awakened me. I found strength, and I woke up: To make my dream come true, I had to be true to my dream.

Being true to my dream means that I am conscientious of how I spend my time and energy.  So when someone takes offense to me being busy then I can’t apologize.  I won’t do it, because that would negate my affirmation to organize my life around the art I am purposefully making.  My belief system has evolved that I am consciously aware that my creation of writing is the center of my universe.  The imagery includes nourishing my wellbeing by surrounding myself with supportive individuals who feels empathy with my purpose. 

It’s not selfish to do what you want to do.  If you examine at a deep level the most kind and giving acts of the “Mother Teresa’s” of the world then it’s possible to see that they are doing what they need to do in pursuit of their own happiness.  

~ There exists only one aloneness, and it is great, and it is not easy to bear.  To nearly everyone come those hours that would gladly exchange for any cheap or even the most banal camaraderie, for even the slightest inclination to choose the second best or the most unworthy thing.  But perhaps it is exactly in those hours when aloneness can flourish.  Its growth is painful as the growing up of a young boy and sad as the emergence of springtime~ 

~But that should not confuse you.  What you really need is simply this – aloneness, great inner solitude.  To go within and for hours not to meet anyone – that is what one needs to attain~ 

~Your innermost happening is worth all your love.  You must work on that.  Do not expend too much courage or time to clarify your position to others ~

Rainer Maria Rilke, “Letters to a Young Poet”, translated by Joan M. Burnham

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