Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Let Me Clear My Throat

Let me start, simply and pre-apologetically, by saying that friends should not let friends drink and blog. That is a certainty I believe will ring more than true should this post fall on deaf ears, or be delivered in a manner which is absolutely unbecoming of Magnolia Rambling.

Having started this blog as a stream-of-consciousness outlet, it doesn’t pay to argue with the fact that I can say whatever I want, no matter what shape I’m in, and if you choose to Ramble On until the end, that is a choice you’ve made – and one that I fully support.

Let’s see if five Stellas (slight exaggeration) and three shots of 1800 (NOT an exaggeration) will lend either credence or confusion to the next many paragraphs.
It’s January 2016, and I sit in my hotel room of a lovely resort in Phoenix, AZ, at the end of a very fulfilling and personally-connected National Sales Conference. The company I work for is irrelevant, and unless you’re already privy to that information, it isn’t worth mentioning. Suffice it say, once a year I get to shake hands with people I’ve only emailed and with whom I’ve only spoken on the phone. We exchange pleasantries, we talk politely – and sometimes not so politely – about clients and the trials & tribulations that make our jobs a never-ending source of amusement, bewilderment, and success. Every year I see the same people, engage in the same handshakes, avoid the same people to whom I have no intention of speaking, and hug my friends and colleagues without whom I couldn’t imagine doing this day in and day out. But today was different.

And I think I know why.

Thanks to Facebook, the ubiquitous method four hundred and some-odd of my ‘friends’ use to keep in touch with one another - or at the very least either show off some part of their lives, or a platform they use to profess their political and moral views to an unsuspecting populace – somebody posted a video of Steve Harvey. He was speaking to the studio audience of his show, “Family Feud,” and giving them an inspirational talk about taking a chance on starting something new. He talked about jumping.

I wasn’t sure what he was getting at, so I sat patiently and waited for the big reveal. What the hell is he talking about? Why do I have to jump? And where the hell am I jumping?

Short of the long, Steve told the audience that nothing ever comes from sitting your ass on the sofa, watching life go by. To start a new business, to follow your dream, to take a path even less than well-traveled, in pursuit of your own happiness, requires you to make a leap of faith, to jump.

He started talking about some religious stuff, quoting this and that from the Bible, at which point I glazed over a little bit, but came back to the essence of what he wanted to impart. If you want to succeed at something which has the power and ability to bring you joy on a level as yet undiscovered, you must jump. It was a powerful message, but one which I decided to lock away in that place you only access when something triggers a memory or thought, and you remember, “Shit…that was on my mind [however long ago] and I’m just now remembering what I’d promised myself I would do.” It isn’t a place where you intentionally put things out of sight or mind, or a place where you purposefully let a dream or an ambition or goal atrophy; it’s just a place where thoughts go which may or may not be recovered in time – or at all – to satisfy whatever caused their origination in the first place. Jumping was in that space today and someone said something to me that I’ll not soon forget.

Now, let me preface this by saying it is highly unusual for one to attend a National Sales Conference and NOT have a beverage or two. It is also highly unusual for one to attend a National sales Conference and NOT take advantage of the stolen moments one has with a peer or co-worker to lament their current position and desires for what the future holds. It was at just this kind of tete-a-tete with someone whom I revere, and whose advice I count on for direction, when she told me this: “You’re in the meat of your 40’s. Why are you not doing what you love?”
Oof. I just shook my head.

We carried on with the conversation, and she was seemingly oblivious to the fact that she’d just rocked me to the core. In one fell swoop, she had complimented me and driven me to a deeper introspection of myself than I thought possible after a single Amber Ale. And she was right. Hands down.

I tell you all the time, whenever I get the chance, that I was born to write. You all know that I’m not religious, so I don’t cater to having been blessed with this ability; divine intervention would be wasted on stringing multiple sentences together when it should be applied to making sure no one ever goes hungry again, or dies at the hands of an abusive spouse, or is forced to make a decision between caring for their children or their next fix. But I digress.

I have an innate ability to communicate with the written word. I know it. And I enjoy doing it. I am boastful and prideful and unabashedly unashamed to tell you that. I will make you cry. I will make you laugh. I hope to make you think. And I strive to lend whatever I can to the education of man and woman such that we learn that we are one people, loving one another no matter what, until we no longer walk this earth.

I am in the meat of my 40’s, and I am letting myself down. In the process, that means I’m also letting you down. Whether you Ramble On, whether you read my short stories, or whether you’ve read my novels, you have not gotten from me all that I can deliver, and certainly not all that you deserve.

I would hope that I am not alone, that I share a kinship with other writers and that we share a particular space and time in the universe wherein our thoughts are never settled, and the erratic creation of ideas are the constants our brains juggle every day. I’ve written previously about for whom writers write. When our pieces are adored and inspire the evolution of our next piece, we are more than happy to put fingers to keypad hoping to outdo what we’d just released to the world. But when our confidence is low, or we are distracted by those things which lend nothing to our craft and sap our enthusiasm for the creation of worlds or the dissemination of ideas or dreams, the writing is supplanted by ‘lazy’ and nothing is fit to touch the page. It is not writer’s block. We always have something to say, and if you don’t see it in print in one form or another, rest assured we’ve mentally tackled whatever has fired our synapses over and over and over again.

I am in the meat of my 40’s and I have so much to say, so much to communicate, so many more books to write. Lazy is not something I can afford.

I am a husband, and a father, and an employee, and a student (of life and of copywriting, my latest checkbox). I am also a writer. I live for my wife and my child – and the written word. I am an employee because I have to be. I am a student because I want to be.

I’ve told a co-worker, and probably the one person on the planet who loves my writing more than I do, that I’d commit to finishing ‘The Jewel Box’ by the end of June. She told me she’d check in with me in March. LOL!

Lazy wants me to put it off. Sit on the sofa. Chill.

Steve Harvey wants me to jump, to take that chance at accomplishing something transformative and genuinely fabulous for my soul.

I’m in the meat of my 40’s and I have so much more to say.

2016 is going to be a very busy year. And I’m ready for it. Let me clear my throat, crack my knuckles, and try to blow you away.

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