Over the past few weeks, Cave Dweller has become a fun and important part of my daily life. I appreciate those of you who stop by to visit my blog on a regular or a transitory basis, taking a moment out of your day to read and/or comment. Your comments are important to me and I’m equally happy to receive emails or messages on my Facebook page.
Yesterday, I was asked how the idea for Cave Dweller came about. I’d like to say that I was struck by a moment of divine inspiration, which feels kind of true, but actually, for quite some time, I’ve been looking for a place to share my thoughts on what has become a major theme in my writing: living alone in a social world. Cave Dweller has become that outlet for me and for what I want to say.
On June 1, 2013, my blog post at colleensayre.com put into perspective some of my thoughts about life and writing so I suppose this was a defining moment for me in moving away from writing about writing to writing about life. This feels like the kick-starter for Cave Dweller and I suppose I have my son to thank for that (among a myriad of other fine things).
What follows is an approximation of my June 1, post. (I guess I could have just inserted a link to the page–the better to get you to browse my website–but I like it here in my little cave and didn’t want to send you adventuring unnecessarily.) The layout is different from the original but the content remains the same:
My son wants to buy a boat. I got a text message from him this morning at 6:54, which means it’s 3:54 where he is. “Nevermind why I’m up . . . the bottom of Hello is cut off!” he said from 2,000 miles away. I read this as I sat drinking my nth cup of coffee and wondering what else I could do to promote my book (which was released last night) besides send a tweet every five seconds and plaster Facebook with ads and promos and the usual pleas of “please buy my book.”
[BTW: I found an app called Buncee that makes posters and invitations and all kinds of cool stuff on the fly and I wanted to give it a try. I’d seen a cool .gif of a cat doing a happy dance on Bing and was intrigued by the “make your own” tagline. So, I whipped up a little picture with a book announcement (alas, I couldn’t figure out how to make the cat or to make this one dance) and posted it at about 6:52. Come “like” me on Facebook to see my Buncee.]
At 6:55, I repaired the truncated Hello (a very easy fix), thanked my son for the alert, and then read that he’d “spent the night reading about sailing certifications. Just need a boat big enough to carry the ‘Dragon’ onboard.”
My response? OMG!
The “Dragon” is his motorcycle, his escape hatch, his get-out-of-jail-free card. It is his parachute, his springboard, and his path to sanity. But now he wants to buy a boat. I’m wondering where on earth he wants to ride that requires three vehicles to get there: the car to haul the boat, the boat to haul the bike, the bike to haul his butt all over creation so that he can feel free and untethered.
Don’t get me wrong! I love adventuring. I love my son. I love that my son loves to go adventuring. But I’m also wondering when my son will realize that he has already arrived. He’s there. He’s here! The adventure is happening all around him. Maybe he already has realized it and my worry is just a mother’s frenzy over her son’s desire for yet another dangerous toy. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been reading about and thinking about the art of staying put and contemplating how to find my own joy.
Martha Beck (www.MarthaBeck.com) has written an interesting piece for O Magazine this month: “The Grass Ain’t Greener.” (Sorry, I couldn’t find a direct link to the article but it can be found in the “May We Help You?” section.) Beck’s focus is FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out. What it really boils down to is this: from this side of the fence (or the computer screen), it seems to me that everyone has a happier, more exciting, more extravagant life than I do. And I want what everybody else has!
The article got me thinking. Being a fear-based phenomenon, FOMO creates all kinds of problems not the least of which is the anxiety created from rushing around from here to there and back again looking for a place, your place, the place where you will feel at home—even temporarily. It seems that almost immediately after arriving at our destination, the wheels begin to turn yet again and we plot and plan how to get to an even better place with barely a glance at the spot in which we’re standing.
I had a mentor back in the ‘90s who used to insist that the only way to find true peace and happiness is to “bloom where you’re planted.” Mildred Ramsey found inspiration and courage to live an action-packed life, traveling around the country giving seminars and selling her book, The Super Supervisor, wherever she happened to be standing. Mildred could carve out her own little piece of sacred ground, till the soil, and plant her seeds in a dusty parking lot while selling books from the trunk of her car. She’s one of the few people I’ve met in my life who could be on the move, rushing in ten different directions, and still be totally centered and at home wherever she stood. (And without a hair out of place, I might add!)
Unlike Mildred, I think most of us are constantly searching for the next thing that will bring us joy or happiness or security, searching for that little piece of ourselves that’s blowing on a breeze in the far off reaches of somewhere else. There is joy and power in being right here and right now. There is something adventurous about experiencing this moment, breathing this air, in this place of all places.
I think the magic of life, the cure for FOMO, is finding ourselves in the now, in this blink-of-an-eye moment of life, cherishing it, and then taking that joy into the next moment—no matter where we find ourselves.
As a writer, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to find my joy in the writing process rather than in the number of books I sell. I am happy at my desk with the world revolving right outside my window. I’m creating my own worlds, my own friends, my own experiences and finding pleasure in the sensation of living with one foot on the floor and the other resting on the haunch of the black lab curled up at my feet. Mind you, it took me 42 moves to get here and there were moments when I believed that the gods were playing some weird game of chess with my life, but I’m here. In this moment. Breathing this air. And I am thankful for it.
Life is what it is. And it’s ours. Here and now. Bring on the joy!
And Topher. . . Sweetie . . . don’t buy the boat! 🙂