I sometimes have this dream where I’m possessed by some sort of Demon-God. “Possessed” is a bit of a loaded word– I just feel overcome, taken over. Like there’s something within me that’s awake, and the rest of the time I’m really just sleepwalking through life.
This Demon-God is a vast, massive being beyond anything I can imagine. He’s strong, sexy, sensual, seductive. He’s confident, radiant, brimming, overflowing. Present, centered. In a way, he’s everything that I want to be. He’s a sort of representation of my best self, or my full self. And he speaks to me in my head in incredibly grand terms. He finds my daily life trivial, humorous and small– like I’m something incredibly powerful amusing itself by pretending to be weak and tiny. He finds my questions silly.
These dreams tell me that I have something greater than myself within me that’s just begging and yearning to be set free, to be let out, to be unleashed, to be enacted. And I know in my heart of hearts that that is what I must do with my life. I don’t have anything specific to say about that – there are no specific plans. He’s too big for plans, he doesn’t care. He finds the human limitations of plans and projects to be puny and pathetic.
But there’s the rub. If I am to enact the Demon-God into existence, I have to handle the plans and project management. And I don’t have a lot of experience doing that. In fact I have a lot of experience being bad at that and being miserable at being bad at that. It’s kinda traumatic and upsetting for me. But sitting around whining about it turns off the Demon-God. He finds it pathetic, uninteresting.
I realize now that this has a lot of parallels with what I’ve read about re: creativity and “genius”. Elizabeth Gilbert talked about it. Stephen Pressfield wrote about it. Tor Norretranders wrote about it. My job as custodian of the Demon-God is to do all the boring paperwork and administration and project management so that he can just show up and unleash his insights and perspective and majesty.
Well, that’s settled, then. There are at least two parts to me (in practice probably infinite, on a continuum). Part of my progress and development as a writer requires me to be less anxious and worried about whether or not divine inspiration is going to show up. That’s not my responsibility. I can’t control that. So I need to let go of that. Instead I just need to show up every day, day after tday, writing, grinding, putting in the work. Professional writers who do this for a living know this, and have known this for hundreds of years. So if I’m going to be truly serious– and I want to be– then I can’t just be running this project lackadaisically. My god, man, there’s no time to waste! I have to get cracking, get moving, be publishing every day!
I suppose that’s one of the big dichotomies or conflicts that I will be carrying with me for the rest of my life, and only really know how I feel about it right before I die, if I have that luxury. Should I relax, stop and smell the flowers, appreciate the joy and beauty of idleness? Or should I be industrious, racing against time? Is there really some sort of balanced path between the two? I think people are naturally predisposed to be more of one or the other, I think circumstances influences that, and I think we can also influence it to some degree with conditioning and reinforcement.
So the question is what do I reinforce? There’s a certain Pascal’s Wager element to this here. There are two options, so there are four before and after scenario. Idle then Industrious, Idle throughout, Industrious then Idle, Industrious throughout. I was mostly idle when I was younger. And I think I’m mostly idle by disposition. I could neve be industrious throughout. I wasn’t industrious before, so that wasn’t an option. If I am to hedge my bets in life, which I think is a rational thing to do, it makes sense for me to at least spend some time right now being as industrious as I possibly can. I can always revert to idleness later if it starts to bother me.
After all, ever notice that the people who preach about the dangers of overwork, who go on the circuit talking about the importance of sleep, mindfulness, meditation, etc– all seem to do it after some sort of breakdown-induced epiphany? Where are the folks who were just chill all along? Maybe they’re out there, but they’re so chill they never even show up on our public consciousness.
Anyway. So the point is I’d like to be more industrious at least for the next few years. I’d like to work really, really hard from 25 to 30. I’d like to work so hard from 25 to 30 that I might consider taking a couple of years off just to decompress. Maybe that’s a slightly ignorant time scale. Maybe I should be planning my time in days and weeks, or months and quarters. I’ve been a working adult for over 3 years now, and it’s already worn me down in some ways. I’m hoping to take a long-ish vacation next year. I want to just write write write write. I keep saying that but I haven’t even gotten to the end of this post yet, lol.
I spent some time thinking about it in the shower and I realize I think I need to do more prep-work. I think I had this romantic idea that I would be able to just keep doing this day after day without any planning and everything. Actually that’s not entirely true– what I assumed, and this is a correct assumption, I think– was that the challenge of this project would force me to figure out how to do it better. And if I want to write better everyday, a big part of that is going to be figuring out what I’m going to write before I write it.
So I guess before I write my next vomit, I’m going to outline the things that I’m potentially going to write about, and then write those things.