Goals set … goals missed. Too many goals perhaps? Prolley. Confession: I easily fall into states of boredom, a temperamental feature that often leads to too many projects. One boss thought I needed to become more like crème brulee; singly focused and deep. He was right. I do easily bore (and I mean that from both directions). Or, as I would put it, I’m blessed with many curiosities. Bright and shiny as they are, my curiosities frequently lead me to take on many and varied endeavors … simultaneously.
But … now I know. There’s a pretty good chance that I’m annoying. Oh, not to me. To everyone else who puts up with me. The constant proving, striving, and shouts of “hey look at what I did!” wafting out from my office into the kitchen. And the demand for immediate affirmation and praise … good Lord, it’s at least draining and at worst torturous. Am I right? Huh? Huh?
I get it. I too am annoyed by people like that (what was that guy’s name?), but I don’t think of myself in that way. No, I’m in my own little world, following one path of curiosity after another and wondering why no one else seems as hungry as I am to learn and know and understand everything. Rabbit trail.
At the end of July, I published the fifth and final installment of a supernatural thriller serial that I began writing in January of 2018. Sounds simple enough, right? Uh … no. There are covers and editors and websites and retailers and ads and free book promos and email lists and, hopefully, a few readers. And for each of those to do’s, there are a thousand methods by which to do them. And of course, I must use the most effective, strategic, and brilliantly clever one. But there isn’t one. And if there is one, only God knows which one it is. And He isn’t telling me.
Add to the mountain of work a few more things, like my love (addiction) for design, book trailer production, and dreaming up new ideas for nonfiction books, not to mention a backlist in dire need of attention.
This will come as no surprise. I find myself perpetually misaligned and unintegrated, both symptoms exacerbated by severe task fragmentation. And what for?
Really. That’s a serious question. What for?
The simple answer is that I’m looking for something.
So, I got a new iPhone. It’s my first one. I love it. I want to marry it. It cares about me. I’m sure of this because every night at 9:00 pm it plays the first stanza of Brahms lullaby, gently reminding me that it’s beddy-bye time. It also has an awesome podcast app. And with that awesome podcast app I found Tim Keller, a man who a week ago had only been a familiar name.
I’ve been binge listening, so everything is all blobbed together in my brain, leaving my soul begging that I slow down and allow for a proper digestive process. Too bad I say! Bring it on! More more more …
The podcast that hooked me was about alignment, something I’ve been talking about for weeks, as you might guess. People like me have a pattern of rush rush rush … crash … get bored … rush rush rush … crash … get bored. And so on. I knew I needed to put a stop to it, and alignment became the new household mantra.
So, Tim Keller is talking about alignment and he uses a wonderful and meaningful Greek word that I unfortunately can’t remember and since the podcast was one of about 15 I’ve listened to in the last three days, there’s no way I’ll find it. Drat. But I do remember the story he told.
Imagine a whale. Let’s just go for it and make it a Blue Whale. The whale is beached. And he wants to move. So, he lifts his large and majestic tale, but while doing so he ignites a sand storm, takes out a grove of palm trees, and destroys a nearby lifeguard station. And he hasn’t moved an inch.
Imagine that same whale. And he’s not beached. In fact, he’s in an area of the ocean known for great depth. He lifts his tale and glides along at a happy 12 to 30 mph, luxuriating in his proper environment. And no one is getting hurt.
We’re like that whale. We veer off course and find ourselves beached, doing what we’re made to do but because we’re not in our element, so we end up destroying things and hurting others. Which brings me to the idea of alignment. (Dang, I wish I had that Greek word right now) Soul alignment … spiritual alignment … emotional alignment, whatever you want to call it, is about entering into a total and complete experience of who you were made to be functioning in the environment that was made just for you; one that allows you to thrive.
It’s a conspiracy. There’s intention behind it. There’s a plan behind it.
Okay … another rabbit trail. One of my favorite writers is Lauralee Farrar. In one of her books she writes about our preoccupation with our own agendas. She writes:
“One is promised the Holy Spirit not so much as Comforter …, but as constant, omniscient Advisor. Along with the power to do comes the infectious confidence in our own grandeur and resistance to intrusion. Still the goal is not a controlled life that we might conceive, but an abundant life that only God can imagine. The result of ignoring God’s higher thoughts for our lives produces the converse of enthusiasm–a hypocritical and free-floating anger at God that our lives are not turning out as we planned.”
I’ve read this paragraph a hundred times. And then one morning last week while reading it for the 101st time, I realized that I’ve been given a sincere and free-floating joy that my life is turning out as God planned.
Tim Keller talks about “the proving:” driven-ness, ego, insensitivity to others, impatience, etc. In other words, all the personal traits I have suffered from while also foisting my annoying needs and demands upon others. When I read that paragraph for the 101st time, it was new. And suddenly everything was okay. I didn’t have to keep asking the “why” questions. The answers didn’t matter anymore. I also didn’t have to wonder what great feat to perform next in what has been a perpetually unsatisfying effort to prove my worth.
Now let’s see how I long it takes me to settle in to the truth … or climb out again.
By the way, alignment has begun with turning five books into one, pulling all of my advertising, removing social media accounts, and playing Gulliver to my daughter’s Lilliputian in the afternoons. Are you impressed?
It’s not easy; the old wounds cry out with their demands for anesthesia. And that will never stop. However, I have moved closer to the water’s edge.