I am writing this blog on Wednesday night on an airplane flying from Albuquerque to Oakland, because on Sunday morning (when I usually write), I will be saying goodbye to my home and driving away from Santa Fe. Thus the title of this blog, you might be thinking. . .but really that rubber on that road is maybe a tertiary meaning. . .
I am writing this blog on an airplane where, for the first time in what feels like months, I have two hours ahead of me where I can't DO. . .and in that quiet, I am FEELING. . .so so so many things that I have been keeping myself too busy to feel.
My flight was delayed twice. A late arrival. Then a flight attendant had to be taken off by EMTs because she didn't feel well. Although the majority of the passengers took the delay in stride -- or even expressed concern for the flight attendant's health -- the lady directly in front of me bitched and moaned for fifteen straight minutes. Which is exactly what I was doing last night for much longer during three phone calls to Apple technicians. Which sent me into a spiral of self-loathing -- and woke me up this morning with a determination to make some serious changes in the way I am moving through my daily life.
Listening to that lady was a gift -- an opportunity to see myself mirrored back in testy Technicolor . . . and be grateful that I had moved past my unpleasant behavior of the night before and, at least on the exterior, I was calm.
But inside, I feel like someone has plugged me in to some wattage that is waaaaaay higher than what I need, so all I do is buzz and jangle and fritz. And I desperately need that to stop.
This is the first way the rubber needs to meet the road of my life! I need to get back to center by revisiting the choices that have gotten me to this moment. Because those choices were not made by my busy little head, were they? No, of course not! But what happens so often is that, the moment Spirit shines a light or Love opens my heart or Mind sends an idea, I say, "Awesome! Thank You so much. I'll take it from here." And then I get busy. No, let me rewrite that: I get BUSY! I excel at BUSY. I am a BUSYness expert. I get BUSY doing and doing and doing and doing. And pretty soon I am jangling so loud that whatever divine inspiration started my journey is a distant dusty memory.
I am writing this blog on an airplane listening to soothing spa music looking out the window and a gorgeous amber-tinted Southwest sunset heading to California to give a talk called Listen, Learn, Laugh, Love: The Art of Designing a Life. Whatever is going to come out of my mouth on that topic, I can guarantee I am the person who most needs to hear it.
Listen. Learn. Laugh. Love: The Art of Designing a Life.
Physician: Heal thyself!
I'm pretty sure getting quiet is the first step in that healing and re-centering. But while I know that part of the jangling is busyness, there are other feelings as well. And one of them is just sheer excitement . . . You see, this week, I found out that something I have been praying would come to fruition finally has: I have a shiny new, incredibly exciting Book Deal. . .to write about the journey I've been taking with this blog -- my journey back to joy!! How cool is that?!?!
Right now, the working title comes from a glorious quote by Robert Louis Stevenson: "Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all."
So, this is REAL rubber meeting the road: It is time for me to put busy on the back burner and get quiet enough to really find that place in me Where Joy Resides. And then to live there -- as a full-time resident.
Like so many kids, I loved reading Robert Louis Stevenson's books. But my real connection to him came on a beach I love just outside of Waikiki called Sans Souci Beach (Carefree Beach)! Starting at age twelve, my mother and I began staying at that beach, and eventually she moved there. So for more than three decades, I swam, snorkeled, talked, read, learned to surf and once was even rescued from a riptide by a very handsome surfer at that beach. And always throughout those thirty years, whenever I looked at the lowslung hau tree underneath which Stevenson wrote, I imagined how glorious it would feel to be able give oneself over to the creative process without a care and let stories as wonderful as Stevenson's come through.
Now it's my turn: This summer I am renting a place in the mountains for six weeks -- a place that feels like a grown-up throwback to my young adulthood, when I walked away from my Hollywood upbringing by choice and squatted without running water and heat in a little log cabin for over a year. This is dee-luxe by comparison: A sleeping cottage. A walk across the grass to a bathroom. And a separate big sunny studio where I can create. . .A place near rivers and trees where I can hike and walk where I am led. . .A simple place where I can get quiet enough to listen to what ideas come. Pretty darn exciting, right?!
But to be honest -- it's also a little scary. And that's another part of the jangling. Fear, clamoring for attention, as it always tries to do.
What am I scared of?
Not of having given up most of my material possessions and my home to pursue this dream.
Not of living in a strange place without my "stuff".
Certainly not walking through the dark to pee in the middle of the night.
Not writing -- "opening a vein onto a page", as my dear friend, the wonderful writer Jane Anderson calls it.
Not even the expectations for the book -- mine or anyone else's.
It's the fact that I have given myself this time and space to not be BUSY, but to actually LIVE the joy I've been seeking. This is where the rubber of my hectic life meets the road called Truth. Because this book is not my NEW JOB. It is not the next thing on the top of my To Do list.
I began this blog because I knew Joy to be my spiritual connector, and the only cure to my workaholism. Yet, let's be real, these blogs have been -- at best -- a glass-half-full approach to Joy. This blog keeps me honest, because I KNOW I have to write about my daily practice of joy each week. But if I'm really truthful, for most of my week, I don't live joy. I just write about wanting to live it.
Getting a wonderful book deal with a publisher with whom I have an amazing connection and having some time to get quiet and craft a book is a huge gift, one for which I am immensely grateful. It's like getting a big beautiful box with a sparkly wrapping paper and a huge satin ribbon. But what's inside the box is. . .me.
So, this Sunday, as the actual rubber of my tires meets the road that takes me away from my home of the past quarter century in my embrace of intentional homelessness, the metaphoric rubber of my daily practice of joy meets . . . the road called My Life.
Over the past thirteen months of writing this blog, I have discovered many of the places joy resides -- on back roads, in connections with dear friends, at horror conventions, in discovering new places, in writing, in public speaking, in spiritual practice, in long walks, in travel, in animals, in photography, in flowers, in birds, in words. But where does it reside in ME? Finding that out is why I have sold most of my possessions and given myself over to this process so completely. Because I know that is the only way I can "give joy a voice far beyond singing".
We have all heard that, at the end of people's lives, they never say I wish I had worked harder, spent more time on the job, or gotten that promotion. When people look back on their lives, they know that "To miss the joy is to miss all."
But the only way I can find where joy resides is with your help.
First, as my witnesses -- to hold me accountable to the intention I want to put on paper:
I am going to allow myself, believe that I deserve, trust that I am meant to live a joy-filled life.
Why is this so difficult? Because so many of us have come to believe that hard work is more important than joy, that making the time to take care of ourselves is egotistical, that living a passionate life is a pipe dream, that self-care is selfish.
Which brings me to the real reason I need your help: Joy CANNOT exist in isolation. The whole reason we need joy is because it connects us -- to one another, to this beautiful planet on which we live filled with so many other species whose lives our lives affect, and to something greater than us all. There is no way I can embark on this journey to live a joy-filled life without you as my traveling companions. Joy is a collective endeavor.
My great adventure that begins this Sunday morning is really OUR great adventure. Joy cannot be sung a capella. It needs a galactic choir and a planetary orchestra. It needs us all to sing it loud and proud and true.
As I lock my door behind me for the last time this Sunday morning, I am heading out to make my home in the world. Because only when I learn where joy resides in you, I can find it in myself. And only by sharing the places joy resides in me, can you open your own heart to joy. Joy is here for us all -- in all the places where we seem to feel emptiness, the spaces in between us, the unknowns that try to scare us. Right where all the jangling of busyness, excitement, or even fear seem to be -- Joy Is.
But to feel it, to live it, we have to open our hearts, our minds, our homes, and our lives to it. Joy needs me and joy needs you -- just as much as we need joy. And we all need one another -- just as we need the birds and the animals and the fishes and the trees and the flowers, and they need us. So roll down your windows and crank up the radio: It's time for us all to sing out our JOY TO THE WORLD!