Yesterday I read, edited and revised a short story, cutting over seven hundred words out, reducing it to about 8780. I powered through doing so, head down but reflecting on it later, I realized I only spent less than ninety minutes on that story, doing that. Yet the euphoria and feelings of satisfaction and accomplishments were mood elevators and energy enhancers sustaining me through the rest of the day. It's that old sweet spot, the same feeling of happiness and success from scoring a touchdown, sustaining a note, playing a difficult passage well, acing a final exam, inspiring a team, solving a difficult logic problem or hitting a home run, to use the things I know best. But it reminds me of good vacations and visits home, of being happy and contented. It's about doing well and feeling good about what you did and where you are. This, more than anything, purges darkness and weariness from me and motivates me to do it again.
Of course, it's an addictive feeling and there is the converse, of trying and coming up short. Striking out. Not solving the logic problem. Getting stuffed short of the goal or fumbling. Having a team stay silent or shaking their heads. Writing something numb, flat and wooden that makes me shudder and wonder how in the world did I ever think I could write.
It's the Matrix, the red pill and the blue pill, what you know, what you want to know and what you want. But there are no actual pills. There is only work and effort, satisfaction, success and achievement. There is only failure if I give up.
And that's the difference from the matrix. The give you two choices. Each pill delivers a different result. But there are multiple choices and outcomes. I know from trying that I can always find that sweet spot again. I've done it before.
I'll do it again.
Aging brings another component with all these metaphors and similes of trying and succeeding. It seems like the challenge of just trying becomes harder. But when I tried and succeeded yesterday and was walking home afterward, I felt forty years younger. In my mind, I was again the slender young boy walking home, pleased with what he's done, eager to share it with others, and excited about doing it again.
I'm the aging man again today. Pressures, stresses and worries crowd my thoughts. I'm checking the clock, thinking of what must be done and looking at the calendar. I'm remembering work projects, yard issues, wife and cat health issues, travel plans. The young boy never knew of these things and he didn't know them when he walked home yesterday after finishing the story. Both are real and in me. Both are me.
That's the broader truth of what I learned yesterday. In seeking balance in my life, both are me, and neither should be forgotten or ignored.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com