Are You Lost Too?

Do you feel lost in life? You’re not alone.

What is it about life that leaves us lingering for more? More fun, more memories, more living, more happiness. We constantly are seeking the next emotional high in order to feel alive. Some sky dive, some drink, some bury themselves in work, some go to a soul cycle and sweat out their misery. The fact still lies in that it is misery we are running from. The primal truth of our humanity and the short span of our existence weighs heavily on our minds in many ways.

More and more people are becoming depressed in our current times despite the medical, technological, and scientific gains of modern society. What I think is that maybe they aren’t depressed, maybe they just have a better grasp on the bitterness of our lives. Maybe they see the war, famine, poverty, and tragedy of the present and it makes it difficult for them to live happily. What is happy living anyways? The happiest people I know are the most simple people I know, the least mind oriented of people. If it is happiness you seek, do not seek answers. Answers are often to harsh of environment for happiness to thrive in.

Any competent person I know will in some way face a life crisis. A crisis of identity and purpose. A struggle to see their place within the vast universe we live in. I feel it’s perfectly natural, only the lamest of minds would not question their own existence. With the birth of social media and corrupted politics, life can often seem messy. I personally believe that life wasn’t meant to be so complex and individualistic, if you don’t agree then please read ‘Tribe’ by Sebastian Junger to see what I mean. With the ever changing future we are losing something that is necessary to human nature.

So, where do we go from here? When life seems difficult and meaningless. I guess the answer lies with Pandora’s box, meaning that only hope is left. The only thing we can really have is hope. And to me that is not depressing but is instead, the most magical thing about our existence. What I am saying by all this is that life should not be taken too seriously or in vain. It’s our own responsibility to see the positives in life and take advantage of them.

So how do you do that? How do you take responsibility of your own life? Well, to start, don’t take things to seriously. Don’t fall into the trap of stereotypes, fitting in, and societal norms. Societal norms are just the current population’s ideas of how humans should live but they should not be taken as fact. Facts are something that can be proven and it seems very clear that the way we are living is not the best way. Find ways to laugh when things seem tragic. Find a way to smile when sadness is present. Be okay with coming across as strange in social situations. Human beings were never meant to fit in, that’s why we have risen above the rest of the animal kingdom.

It is my belief that the only way to find joy in life is to make it yourself. Find the things that can make you forget about life and cling to them like a newborn baby to its mother. When you are lost be honest with yourself and do the things that would make your life better. As long as those things won’t hurt other human beings because the lowliest thing you can do in life is bring someone else down. Your existence is not greater than anyone else’s, so to damage their lives would only damage yours. The responsibility lies on ourselves to make our lives and the lives around us better. And in that responsibility lies happiness and peace. You can try to find peace and happiness any other way but I can guarantee you won’t find what you’re looking for.

Life is mysterious and it is often sad but it is balanced out with just as much good. Find that good and hold onto it for as long as you can. Make a fool of yourself and live freely. Life is too short for anything but. If you are lost, make your own path so that others like you may follow in it.

Finding Your Passion

How to discover the thing that you were meant to do…

If you google the definition of “Passion” you will get a few different answers. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines Passion as: “the suffering of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death.”, “intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction”, and “sexual desire”.

Christ suffering, strong emotions, sexual desires? That is quite the broad set of meanings for one word. Obviously those meanings are applied given the context we use passion in. If I said someone was a passionate lover, I doubt you would assume that their love reminds me of Jesus’s suffering.

Regardless of all that, it is clear that passion is a powerful word in any context. From the title of this blog I’m sure you all know that I am talking about passion as the job, career, activity, or hobbie that you were meant to do. Something your gifted at that doesn’t feel like work or a chore when you do it.

So how do you go about finding that so called passion of yours? Do you meditate for hours in order to get in touch with your truest self? Do you go from job fair to job fair trying to find something that instantly draws you in? Do you read multiple self-help books from people who have found their passion? Or do you go out into nature, take some shrooms, and then wait for an epiphany?

Honestly, I think all those are possibly right answers and also possibly wrong answers. I think you have to experiment and get creative when it comes to finding your passion. There is no step by step guide to your passion. You must follow your gut instincts and see where they take you.

That being said I do have some advice when it comes to following those instincts. If you are working or a college student, or a stay-at-home mom with a few kids; you probably are a bit busy for many passion finding activities. So I have a method that you can do from your own couch that might help you get closer to finding your passion.

What you need to do is find somewhere comfortable and distraction free where you can have five to ten minutes to yourself. You can be standing up, sitting, lying down, in the bathtub, whatever you like. Make sure your phone is turned off or in another room where you won’t hear it. Then I need you to imagine you are living by yourself on a huge luxurious property. The lawn is lush and green and there are beautiful flower gardens planted across the property. Everything you could ever want is on the property. An indoor pool with a waterslide, a movie theater, a racecar track in the backyard, whatever your heart desires is on the property.

But, there is a catch. The property is encased in a giant see-through dome like in the Simpson’s movie. You can not leave the dome and nobody can come in, you are completely alone. There isn’t even staff on the property like maids, and butlers. Nobody is in the dome with you. If you make a mess, it will magically be clean by morning. If you want pizza, one will appear in the oven, ready to eat. You can have whatever you desire except the company of others.

You can have your phone and any other electronics you would like. There is super fast Wi-Fi available everywhere on the property. You can surf the web, play video games, watch movies, etc. But you cannot contact anyone. Texting and calling are disabled, you can’t comment on anyone’s Facebook post, you can’t even send somebody an email. There is absolutely no way to interact with anyone outside of your dome. You are alone.

Now, imagine living in this dome. Imagine all the fun things you would do when you first got there. You can run all over the mansion and see all the rooms. You can jump on all the beds and ride a bike down the hallways. You have no rules, no responsibilities, no worries. You are on the ultimate vacation, just alone.

You keep this up for weeks, enjoying your little vacation in the dome. You have been drinking mimosas for breakfast, eating delicious food, taking delightful walks through the gardens. You have been absolutely loving your time in the dome. You imagine you could stay in that dome forever.

Let your imagination enjoy the vacation for as long as you would like. Allow yourself to feel like you are really there and are having the time of your life. When you think you’ve gotten into the right head space and can almost taste those mimosas, you can move on to the next step.

The next step might be a little harder and not so fun, but I want you to imagine that you have now been living in your dome for over a month. You have been living it up and have lost track of the days. You haven’t missed the outside world at all yet.

Though, as days progress you start to find less enjoyment in your vacation. You have explored every inch of the vast property and huge mansion. You have eaten every food you could possibly desire, you have watched countless movies, you have laid by the pool for so long that your skin is now noticeably darker. But even in such a beautiful place with everything at your fingertips, you start to feel bored.

As days keep progressing you start to miss your friends and family. Every day becomes longer and duller. You spend more time lying in bed and moping around. You start to miss regular life, even work or school. At least with work or school you felt purposeful and productive. But in the dome you don’t have a purpose, you are simply just living.

Soon you start to dread being in the dome. You start to feel depressed and so alone. You start talking to yourself because you miss having conversations. You don’t find enjoyment in any of the nice things around the property anymore. Your vacation now feels like prison. You feel trapped and alone.

Eventually you start to go mad. You can’t be alone any longer and without purpose. You pace up and down the halls of the mansion that once felt enormous but now seemed to be shrinking in around you. No activity can put your mind at ease anymore. You are restless and desperate to go back to your real life. You spend most your time just staring off at nothing.

I did warn that this step wouldn’t be as fun. I normally would never advise someone to think negative thoughts but it is necessary for this method. You have to really dig deep into your imagination and put yourself into that situation and feel those negative emotions. It’s not nice to imagine, but trust the process.

The next step is to imagine you have hit an emotional rock bottom. You don’t want to go on another day living in that dome. You are the most depressed you have ever been and you want out. You stand at the edge of the glass dome peering out into the world that you long to be apart of again. You beat your fists against the walls of the dome and cry out to the sky “let me out” but nothing happens. You break down and fall to your knees in tears. You have hit the point of all hope lost. You can’t imagine going on one more day like this.

You cry until you run out of tears as you are still on your knees next to the dome walls. You have no energy or motivation to do anything. You topple over and hurdle up in a ball on the grass. You remain there for hours until the sun begins to set and then you fall asleep right there in the lawn. You are empty inside.

You wake up the next morning as sun gleams through the dome walls and shines in your eyes. The rays of sun hit your cold face and you feel your cheeks getting warmer. You have no other feelings besides the warmth on your face. In that moment you know that you must do something or the loneliness and depression will kill you.

This is the moment that you need to look inside yourself and find what would save you from the depression. I can’t lead your imagination past this point, it’s up to you. Imagine yourself getting up off that grass and forcing yourself to do something that could take your mind off of your depression and loneliness. Maybe you get some fabric and start sewing it into a shirt, or make something out of wood, or take care of a baby bird that fell from it’s nest. Maybe you get out a canvas and paint brushes and sit in the garden painting a butterfly perched on a colorful flower. You become so focused on the fine details of the butterflies wings that you forget your alone in a dome. That’s what you need to imagine, whatever it is that will make you forget you are alone, depressed, and trapped in a dome. Don’t think too hard about it, listen to your heart and your gut instincts. Let the answer naturally flow into your mind.

Whatever comes to mind in that moment is most likely your passion. Now this method might not be the best if your passion involves people. As in a psychiatrist, or a doctor. If this is the case you will have to imagine that you can see patients but only so that you can help them. You need to maintain that mindset of being so depressed and alone. I know that requires a little more imagination but you’ll have to work with me a little, I said food could magically appear in your oven too so nothing should seem unrealistic at this point.

It may take you a couple tries to really imagine yourself in that situation and get into the right headspace to decide what you would do. Don’t force yourself to come up with an answer right away. You can stop and try again on another day if you are having troubles.

To help you get an idea of what might come to mind I will tell you what I picture myself doing in this situation. I picture myself in a room with a large window and a wooden desk pushed up against the wall beneath it. On the desk is an old typewriter with a blank sheet of paper already loaded into it. In the corner of the room is a vintage record player softly playing a Bob Dylan record. On the opposite side of the room is a large bookcase filled with classic literature. Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Maya Angelou, and many more famous writers’ names fill the entire book case with the exception of one shelf. One shelf is empty. That shelf is reserved for myself and the books I hope to write.

I sit down at the desk with a cup of coffee and start working on a story that I hope to put on that shelf one day. I soon get lost in the pleasant clicks of the typewriter. I forget I am in a dome and soon feel the loneliness and depression drift away as I have found a purpose.

Hopefully that will help you understand what I am trying to get at with this method. What will bring you purpose in a place where you don’t have one? That’s the point. I think it’s hard to find that answer in our everyday lives because we have responsibilities, friends, and family, and many other things to occupy our time and give us a sense of purpose. We can get by just fine without pursuing our passions. My method just tries to remove all the distractions that keep you from your passion.

I know my method gets a little dark for a moment and seems a little crazy. It may not work for you and that’s fine. We are all different and certain things work for certain people, and certain things don’t. Hopefully my method at least got you one step closer to the answer you are looking for.

The last thing I want to say is that “passion” doesn’t mean something that will be easy and not require hard work. You should not be looking for something that doesn’t require hard work, rather you should be looking for something you want to work hard at. You will still have bad days and still get frustrated even when doing something you’re passionate about. A quote I will never forget comes from the show Californication, the quote is said by the character Rick Rath in the final season. Rick says: “The second you try to get serious about something, it loses all its magic”.

I don’t include that quote to depress you, I include it to help you manage your expectations. Just because something loses it’s magic, doesn’t mean its not a good thing. If that were true then every relationship would end after the honeymoon phase, but they don’t.

“Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!” -Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Dostoevsky’s words are beyond wise and are unfortunately correct. We as humans do grow accustomed to anything, good or bad, after a short while. This is the basis behind sayings like the grass is always greener and you don’t know what you got till its gone. Unfortunately we can grow accustomed to our passions too.

Again, don’t let all that depress you. Just keep some of those things in mind when pursuing your passion. Maybe you’ve been doing what you love all along and just grew use to it. Maybe the key to passion, among other things, is just a little gratitude and appreciation.

But who am I to tell you what passion is or how to find it? No one can know how your mind works or tell you what you were meant to be doing. So go and try new things, make your own method to find passion. At the very least if you try something and hate it, you can cross it off your list and you’ll be one step closer to your passion. I think the greatest joys in life come from trying to find answers and not from the answers themselves. You can chase rainbows looking for pots of gold, or you can just enjoy the rainbows.

Writing your first novel

What my experience has been so far while writing my first book…

I think it goes with out saying, that writing a book isn’t easy. With more and more binge-worthy Netflix originals being released and TikTok supplying us endless hours of short videos, there are countless distractions to consume our creativity and keep us away from the blank page.

Now, if you can turn your phone off and focus on writing then you come to the next challenge. Getting a good idea. If you are going to write a novel the you will need a story that can hold strong, even when you’re 50,000 words into it. I probably have six attempted novels saved right now that all ended between the 12,000 and 30,000 words. I get to a point and then realize that my idea didn’t have strong enough legs to stand on its own.

So how do you know if an idea can go the distance and provide you a full novel? I think an idea has to come to you that is so good that you can’t not write the thing. I don’t think you can force a great story idea. I think it has to come naturally. The book I am working on now was the first story that kind of just came to me. It all started with an idea of a character that would be fun to write. Then a few days later some of the story came to me. I didn’t write anything down at that point but the idea stuck around in the back of my mind. Little by little, and day by day the story pieced itself together in my mind until I couldn’t contain it anymore and finally started writing it. It was over a month between the initial idea and when I finally put fingers to keyboard.

Now lets say a story came to you and you have let it marinade in your mind a bit, and you know it’s good, so you decide to sit down and start writing it. This is when the fun really starts. If this is your first novel then it’s going to be your baby and like new mothers, you are going to want your baby to be perfect. starting with the hook, the opener, the intro. The first words you put down will probably take you the longest. They did for me. I was so focused on creating that perfect first line. I probably spent two hours on the first paragraph.

Listen to me! Don’t spend two hours on your opening sentences. I guarantee you will rewrite them anyways during editing. So turn off the perfectionist in you and just start typing words. Force your fingers to move ahead past that beginning and start laying that foundation of your storyline. Don’t be like me, one year into my book and I had less than 25,000 words. Granted, I often stopped writing for weeks at a time and was very new to writing at that time.

Once you get started on your book, the only think you have to do is write. Many authors and writers will tell you that you have to create and outline first, define your characters and their arcs, structure your story, etc. If you want to do any or all of those then great, if not also great. The best part about writing a book is that no one can tell you what to do. Yes, the three act structure has proven to be pretty effective but don’t focus on following it so tightly that your story loses it’s unique qualities. As a writer, your style and process will come to you and you will get better. I clouded my head with so many things when I started my novel that I started to lose track of what was important, the story! So just keep writing and worry about completing the first draft.

That’s where I am at now, trying to complete my first draft. I started working on this specific novel back in late 2018 and at the time of writing this I have 57,000 words and I plan on getting to 90,000 within the next three months.

I know what you’re probably thinking. From late 2018 to March 2021, I have only written 57,000 words. Yes, that is an incredibly slow rate of writing, I know that. The reason it has taken me so long is for a multitude of reasons. Mainly life just getting in the way. I was in the Air Force when I started writing my book so I only wrote for a few hours each week. Then in late 2019, I separated from the Air Force and moved back to Minnesota to go to college. During that whole time I didn’t focus much on my book, I still didn’t even think of myself as a writer back then. I honesty just thought that I would slowly work on this current novel for years and eventually self-publish it, and that would be the only book I ever wrote.

It wasn’t until recently that I accepted that I am a writer and that it’s something that I will do forever. So now, I have been writing a faster rate and actually have plans to finish my book soon. I can see the finish line now and have a clear idea of the ending. All that is left is to write what’s in my mind.

I don’t feel like a bad writer or a slow writer for the amount I have written though. I feel like a learning writer. I can actually see my writing getting better as I look back at those first couple chapters I wrote. So I have just been allowing myself to enjoy the writing process and not overworking myself. I am a full time student right now too so it’s quite east to get burnt out while sitting at my computer.

Just the other week I wrote a 5 page paper for a film studies class I am taking so I didn’t write much towards my novel because I was already writing quite a bit.

I’m starting to linger off here. I’m sure no one cares about my film studies paper. Let me just wrap this post up with a closing statement.

Writing is an artform and everyone has their own styles and pace. When it comes to your first book, don’t let the troubles make you dislike writing. Keep working on your craft and write whatever you like at whatever pace you like. Deadlines and daily word counts can wait until you are an established author. Also, It’s okay to walk away from your book for a bit. Some of my favorite parts of my book so far came after a long break from my writing. Don’t make your book feel like homework or else you will avoid it like the plague.