There are two kinds of story. There is external story. There is internal story. The more unrealistic and unreasonable you are perceived as being, the more external story there will be.
Do not be deceived. Your personal, internal story about you and the external story that others have about you will not match up. Not often. Not accurately. If you’re lucky you will come to appreciate the synergy between these two stories.
The simple fact of the matter is that there are going to be very few people who are going to connect positively to your self-narrative. Most people lack sufficient self-awareness to even handle their own story, much less be a dispassionate, fair-minded biographer.
That’s okay. As long as their story doesn’t interfere or create doubt about your story, there could be something to learn or something to let go of.
People will tell you your story anyway. When they do it’s an opportunity to check over your story and accept or reject what they say and then, well, story forth, as the old saying goes.
One external story I have heard from others is about passion. I seem to appear to be passionate to some people. Quite lazy and befuddled to others, but rather intense, amorous and excitable to most.
When it comes to passion, frankly I’m rather suspicious of it. Passion to me is questionable, even disreputable―at least in relationships. Passion is unsustainable elsewhere.
If our relationship is hot, be prepared for it to cool off. If you have passion in business, as an entrepreneur, there better be other things you can scale quickly or adapt toward maintaining at a certain rate or level. Otherwise, you’ll both burn out and fade away. My my. Hey hey.
Passion is all very feel good on the ego. I’m grand and noble and have found my passion. I’m living my passion. Someone said, and they sounded very enlightened, too: “Take time to work through the process and know that, no matter what, you’ll be getting closer to where you want to be.” Why? Because passion.
Passion implies a burning fire and fires exhaust themselves. I may very well be intense, amorous and excitable, but I detest being exhausted. These days I’m not interested in following my passion, living my passion, finding my passion.
I’m interested in a commitment to action.
I wrote about this already, that I must have easily 100+ items on my to-do list. This week I am not going to get 100 things done. Not with 24 hours in a day. Not with all the passion in my Scorpionic stars.
I’m going to get things done because of my commitment to action. Just not 100+ Big List items.
When I ask myself the very calm question, “What 3 things do I need to accomplish that will guarantee this week will feel like a win?” it reins in the “passion” and directs it toward activity and away from agitation. It also highlights my problem with passion:
No matter what you think about passion―it’s about you. Your commitment to action is about others. Actionable steps in my day are about the service I provide as a freelancer. My commitment to action is about the people in my life and about making a difference in theirs.
Actionable steps are about providing benefit to your clients.
And here’s why I say this: Because I’m unrealistic and unreasonable.
This is, of course, an external story. And I’m fine with it because as an “unrealistic” person who has always made the “unreasonable” viable, I’ve come to value navigating through pain, interest and over to solutions and a good personal and professional sense of action.
I quote Derek Halpern a lot: Passion doesn’t pay the bills. Pain does. Find the pain. Offer relief. Get paid. Passion may help you feel good but it doesn’t do squat for anyone else.
Passion is a comfort zone issue. As Dr. Joyce Knudsen says, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” Get into the taking action zone instead!
I’ve always been unrealistic and unreasonable. Way the hell before I started freelancing.
The Is That It Is
When my Yia Yia passed away and my family was in Greece, after 6 months my parents rightly wanted to know what I was going to do. It was unrealistic to go to Paris and spend 18 months there. It was unreasonable to have spent 2 years in Europe. I did it anyway.
When I returned to my hometown of New York City, I went to CCNY. I was a Creative Writing and a Film major. I found a mentor in professor and poet Constantinos Lardas. Gus loved me and my writing.
He used to look at me with a disconcerting mix of pity and tender irascibility (you may have to be Greek to understand that one).
One gorgeous May afternoon, I asked him as we walked toward St. Nicholas Terrace, “Gus? Is something wrong? You seem upset with me.”
“I’m not upset with you. I’m wondering what you’re supposed to do.”
I stopped and looked at him. “What do you mean?” His tone of voice made me nervous.
“You should have been born in the 18th or 19th centuries. You’re a poet and that’s all you’ll ever be. The world is not known for treating people like you very well at all and I’m worried.”
It was unreasonable that by mid-terms I was excused from all my writing classes for the remainder of the semester because I had already earned a 4.0 in those courses.
It was unrealistic that I would share the stage at university poetry readings with Amiri Baraka and Allan Ginsberg. Or that Gary Dourdan would back me up on percussion at readings in the East Village.
It was unreasonable that a tenured Columbia University professor would invite me to participate with MFA writing students, to read and share work when I was barely an undergrad. Those guys hated me.
My culinary career was unrealistic. I would head to China Town several times a week and walk into the manager’s office with product and a receipt to be reimbursed. I’d rush into the kitchen to exercise improvisational cooking like I had a Food Network show.
Moving to Las Vegas to “seek my fortune” was unrealistic. Finishing my degree and changing my career was unreasonable. It was unrealistic for me to attempt a Master’s degree.
In comparison, maybe becoming a freelance writer was practical and tenable after all. Whatever external story people have about me, in all honesty, I got stones, my friend.
I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of the future. I can’t see it well because the darkness covers it. The future doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m not fearful of it.
What I’m afraid of is errors of perception. When I’ve screwed up (and yes, I have a litany of screw-ups), it’s always been because of an error of perception, an inability to see the “is that it is.” That’s something that belongs to me.
I was in a relationship, seems like several lifetimes ago, that I wrongly perceived as being detached and disengaged.
The error was that I perceived us traveling the road of life separately. Like we were on a road trip in two separate cars and that was interpreted as a misadventure, a tragedy, catastrophic.
I could not have been more wrong! I could not have been more immature, inexperienced, more maladaptive.
In Life the is that it is is that we sure as hell are in different vehicles and thankfully so! Even if we were conjoined, she still was not me, she still was an entity of my environment like I was for her.
This is a great thing―not a catastrophe. The only real adversity was the error in perception that ended the relationship and sent my life spiraling out.
If I’m here to facilitate your transition into a new life, or to be there in the capacity of a catalyst for the intelligible or the possible in your life, then I am damn proud that I could do that.
Did you learn something? Did you get something meaningful? Good.
My new life is about to begin. I can’t see it worth a damn. There are no navigational reference points. The sky is dark and starless. And yet, not one catastrophic tragedy. Just life in my environment in the is that it is.
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.
In other words, Life moves like the tides and seizing the highest tide leads us to success. If we let the high tide pass us by, the voyage of life gets miserable. I’m put to sea on such a tide right now and I have to take life’s current as it’s offered. Or lose. But I will not lose. So don’t you be afraid either.
Live today as a life unto itself.
Live today with a focus on meaning-making. In psychology, meaning-making is the process of how persons construe, understand, or make sense of life events, relationships, and the self.
We gather information, we have experiences, we give them meaning, we form an impression, we act on what we believe we’ve learned. That is what it is to be human.
We then construct a life-world.
Our life-world is made up of all the immediate experiences, activities, and connections that make up our environment. Remember, anyone, anything, and anyplace that isn’t you is your environment.
When we grow in meaning-making and in our perceptions of ourselves, then other people, places, and things become intelligible to us, and all the darkness in the world doesn’t make any difference in our reality. Or on our internal story.
When I was in that Road Trip Relationship, my openness to and awareness of the world was what was darkened. The perception of traveling in separate cars down the road of life was unacceptable because it represented a threat to my life-world at the time.
The problem with the perception error I committed is that it did not coincide with reality and rather than accepting it as a challenge, I left.
And I began to focus on my internal story. I continued, in fact, to persist in being unreasonable. The voyage continues, with a dark and starless sky. With no sea monsters, no siren’s song. The story, no matter how unrealistic it seems, continues.
Appreciate the synergy