Posted by: innerpilgrimage | September 23, 2009

Living in a Digital Desert is Quite Nice

Days to my 40th Birthday: 83

Failure.

What a loaded word that can be.  A person will stop themselves from trying to excel–what drives one to that?  What pushes me to hide?  Is it the cold feeling in my intestines, the “fear” I feel (like pressure on my shoulders) which reminds me of the worse times of my childhood?  How does a human being get so broken that even the smallest risk is a nearly insurmountable obstacle?

I believe in the school of thought that people do what they want to.  I deny that whole theory that we are something different than our actions and choices, that “If you really knew me” person beneath the person we project to the world mantra.  We are a collective of excuses why and why not.  We are the reasons we succeed and fail.

I fail because of two reasons: I play out scenarios in my own head before I even try something, and I don’t make a best effort.  Two very hard things to admit, for the first makes me sound completely mad and the other makes me sound lazy.  Over time, I learned that if I fail on purpose, I don’t have to fight with others’ opinions of me.  I know what people think of me when I fail. . . or do I really?  I know what I think of me.

Failure by choice.  I feel the same way if I fail by my own hand or if I fail because of someone else, right?  Failure is failure, right?  But it isn’t.  I’m thinking about how I feel when someone else fails me.  I feel that bitter betrayal, that cold pain through the heart like a string being pulled through and out of my heart–a stinging sensation which brings the tears that burn the eyes.  It is a spreading sort of painful, an imaginary needle piercing the heart and dragging its chill outward, leaving whatever cold poison is left to burn the humanity away molecule by molecule.  But when I fail on my own, it’s a heavy feeling.  Oppressive, like building a house with no windows and walling up the door behind me.  Just a hot, unhappy, darkness.  I may tell myself I can live with the self-loathing of not even allowing the world to reject me.  If I try, then I have done something.  Controlling my own failure means doing nothing at all.

I’m happy no one looks at my web log.  I’ve had two views (one per day), no comments, and I feel completely free.  Officially, it is failure, right?  The point of a web log is to be exciting and readable, right?  I’m putting my thoughts onto the web for the world to “Lookit Meeee!” right?  Well, my Journalspace blog was like that.  I created melodrama from nothing.  I threw my emotions behind fantasies.  I lived outside the realm of reality and I wrote embellished truths and lamented my reader count.  That was a bad place to be.

Currently, I try not to live there.  My husband fits just right for me, even if he’s not quite the man of other women’s dreams.  For him, I am working on not needing external validation.  He’s the closest person in the world to me.  He sees every single fault I have, and I am still so deeply loved by him.  I see it in his eyes, how his whole being (his soul?) radiates when he looks at me and I am there with him.  I see how he hurts when I do the right thing (get healthy) for the wrong reason (for men to notice me, thinking that my own man will want me more if other men want me).  Happily, most of the time it’s because I like how I feel right now.  I sleep through the night.  I don’t wheeze any more.  The chest pains are gone.  And I have so much energy!  I don’t look “hot”, but I am content.  And I apparently have that EveryMom face that makes kids smile at me in grocery stores.  To them I look like a nice lady.

I want to be a nice lady.

I’m not currently a nice lady.

I want to purge this all and find out what I really want to do. . . and I’m realizing I dig in hard with my failure.  Well, I have 2.5 months until I’ve finally reached the buzzer for my Do By 40 list.  I looked at it recently, and I have done a lot of it.  I laughed at how shallow some of it was.  And some of it, I wondered why I never tried.

So here is my Final Countdown Do By 40 list, by my 39-year-old self.  Considering I’ve got . . . 12 weeks (11 weeks, 6 days), I think a reasonable goal is to make one task per week.  In no particular order:

1. ) Self-publish the second book in my science fiction trilogy, even if it has no ISBN.

2. ) Email my friends (and my sisters) once per week.

3. ) Walk/Run five miles in less than 1 hour on a treadmill/elliptical machine (I’m at 4.2 right now, and I was at 3.5 last month).

4. ) Read 12 books (I can read more, but I’ve gotten out of reading them).

5. ) Complete my 7th National Novel Writing Month novel without going over 50,050 words (Very hard for me . . . I wrote 223,100 words in November 2006–3 novels).

6. ) Send 12 query letters and sample chapters to 12 agents or publishers.

7. ) Make a croquembouche, even if it is an abysmal failure.

8. ) Practice electric bass three times per week.

9. ) Draw something daily, even if it’s just a stupid cartoon.

10. ) Learn to crochet baby blankets and beanies to donate to hospitals for mothers who need them. (My mother knit and donated layette sets, something I admire about her despite our strained relationship).  Complete at least one beanie and baby blanket, even if it’s too ugly to be donated.

11. ) Go to a local art museum at least once.

12. ) Find my local Legal Aid society and walk in and be brave enough to ask if I can volunteer (I ought to do something with that Paralegal Certificate, right?).  Just ask, not get the volunteer position.

I think those are all attainable goals.  And when I reach my 40th birthday, I am going to put down my 50 things due by 50 list.  And then I will do them.

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