The Wizardess of Oz

An American's Adventures in Australia and Beyond

Tag: Goals

Listening to the Universe


I’d always believed that writing was a gift bestowed only to the few who possessed the elusive talent.

But over the last few months, I’ve been looking into that a lot. And most blogs about writing urge: Practice. Discipline. Writing is something you must practice every day. Set a goal. Achieve it. I always knew I wanted to write, but I never knew how. My English and Journalism degrees were quickly discarded when nothing attractive presented itself in the post-colliegiate ‘real’ world, and writing dry news articles was more heartbreaking to my romantic sensibilities than pivoting Excel spreadsheets, which is what I ended up doing for 7 years instead. So when life threw a relatively interesting storyline to me, I used it as a source for my practice, and my discipline. Never mind that I didn’t realize it at the time.

The concept of beavering away at art never sounded very artistic to me. What true artist can’t just sit down at her canvas and conjure a masterpiece? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. What is art but practice and discipline, with the leavening agent of imagination? Every art form has its laws, which are learned before they are flouted. Every painter has to learn how to hold a brush. Every writer has to become comfortable with holding the pen.

So that’s what this blog has been for me. My flat, unleavened offering to the world. My practice, my discipline. My weekly word count, without the imagination necessary to really call it art. My attempts to capture people and places and see if I can’t bring them to life in words. Pulling apart my own emotions publicly to see what resonates.

I didn’t realize exactly what it was that I wanted until I was floating in the Andaman Sea, staring up at the wispy clouds overhead and really trying to piece together what I wanted from my future. And I thought about how much I had enjoyed writing about my travels the day before. Just the act of tapping out the words had given me a sense of bliss, writing without an agenda other than my own. And a thought floated from my subconscious into my consciousness like the wispy clouds overhead: I should write a novel. And at that moment, the previously placid water cradling me swelled, bobbing my entire body in the most pleasant way, as if the universe was excitedly egging me on. I smiled (the bobbing was really fun), and let my thoughts drift again, pushing the idea back to subconsciousness where it belonged. But ten minutes later, it floated back to the surface, and no sooner had I fixed on it again than the swell returned. It felt like I was being gently woken, like a kind voice was saying, ‘Wake up, I’m trying to tell you something important.’

So I’ve decided to listen. I have spent the past 12 months collecting places, personalities, experiences. My brain has slowly leaked out all the clutter I put into it about negotiating deals, balancing budgets, managing clients. I’ll give it the good old college try, and see if I can’t crack out a novel. I can’t promise it will be good, but I can promise that I will at least do it.

It’s frightening to put this out there and actually make myself accountable to it. Even with all my desperate raving about broken hearts and the like in years past, it’s probably the most personal thing I’ve written here. My plans. My refusal to get myself back into the ‘real world’ for a while longer, if at all.

Here’s to chasing dreams.


From the Archives: Thoughts On Traveling Through Life

First, some background: In high school my very best friend Nicole told me I should start keeping a journal of our lives, chronicling what we do on the weekends when life was lived for which party you were able to get into. So I started said journal, and managed to keep it up well past high school, through college, and I still contribute to it sporadically today. Though the high school pages are a study in humility for me thanks to my immaturity and dorkiness, I can see how this journal eventually became an outlet for me. It’s a literary version of watching myself grow up, and sometimes some really great things came out of it. Re-reading some of the things I was discovering years ago almost feels like I’m giving myself advice from the past. As such, when it seems right I’ll share relevant portions of this journal.

This entry was written in 2005 – I was in college, working at a bank part-time, and living in Orange County. I hadn’t yet planned my life-changing study abroad experience, but you can see the seeds of restlessness were sown well before I ever stamped my passport.

We live in a world where we have to plot and plan every minute of every day, as if not knowing what we were going to do would kill us. We have to be on a career track, be going to school, always have a goal, an end destination. And when we don’t know what that destination is we freak out. Like death. Nobody knows what really happens when we die. So most people are so afraid of it, it can almost border paranoia. Unless you are one of those poor old people who are so tired of living that they don’t even care what happens, they are just over it. Some of those guys come into my work. Most of them are men too, that’s weird. I want to grab them and yell, “What are you thinking?! How can you be over it already? It’s only been 60 years!”

Maybe all this ‘have a foreseeable end’ stuff is making us live our lives too fast. It feels like I was 5 for years and 15 for minutes. What happened? Life was simple when I didn’t have a goal. Is that what makes it go fast? Racing, racing, racing toward what we want that we forget to look at the scenery on the way? Is maturity when someone has this goal? You know how they say, ‘He is so immature, so irresponsible, he is going nowhere in life.” Maybe he just beat the system, and is more interested in the scenery than the destination? What if these “deadbeats” have us beat? They just knew all along. I wonder how I can possibly remind myself to slow down and enjoy each day. It’s so easy to forget. There are little things I will notice, like how the sun feels good on my skin, or the sunset when I am jogging, but I don’t really savor it. And I can say, “Oh, I will try to enjoy this minute as much as possible,” but after a few days I will forget and go back to the hurry hurry hurry rush rush rush. Without even realizing it. That’s sad. Next time I feel something I really like, I am going to try to remember to savor it. Maybe it can become a habit. I guess we’ll see.

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