Friday, August 14, 2015

Drifting Anchors.

For each of us, we have our anchors; those very things that ground us and keep us focused. For me it has always been a deep seated routine and habitual nature. However, as a counter balance to this I have also always been driven by a knack for being consumed by a passion to the point of what I confess could be called obsession. It has been a strength and a weakness.

What makes me good at some of the things I do is this very ability to immerse myself in a project and so long as I have something like it to direct my efforts everything goes well for me. The problem therein though lays with my very nature. It is when I lose that project or activity that I can direct my time and attention on that I fall apart.

As an example; I have often fallen into a routine in my mornings where I spend a portion of my time working on a story or some other activity. Inevitably though, I finish the story off or something in my life happens that completely destroys my habitual pattern. It can be anything from an unfortunate surge in my daily deluge of drowsiness due to my Narcolepsy to my children falling ill. It doesn't much matter what the reason is; all that matters is the fact that once my pattern is disturbed it can be hard for me to recover.

This may be interpreted by some as an excuse or just a lack of commitment. I mean, let's face it; if someone said they couldn't complete a simple task because they were interrupted that would be some pretty weak tea. I am not saying by any means that if I have to step away from working on something that I am forced to completely forgo any efforts to complete it. Far from it.

What I am saying is this; if I begin working on a story or project and fall into a daily routine/pattern of spending x amount of time on it, completing a set degree of progress or doing a specific part of it at a regular interval then if something disrupts me I may not exactly be able to get myself back on track easily. There have been times where I had a completed piece of work before me, but as I was trying to revise/refine it something occurred that prevented me from resuming my regular routine. By the time I was able to whatever factors that had me in the appropriate creative environment were gone.

Imagine being in the mood for Italian food but all you can spare the time for is a street vendor hot dog or supermarket check-out candy bar. You can always eat it and go on but it doesn't necessarily satisfy you. For me it can be like that if the various circumstances behind the scene place me in the mindset for a science fiction tale when I had been working on something fantasy based. I may still be able to produce something but without that drive it never turns out quite the same.

I've said it before; a writer can always write something - even if it is just something about a cheese sandwich. A repair man can also patch up a problematic part. It doesn't mean that it is a perfect fix. Sometimes it is just something that will work and get you by.

Myself, I am a husband and Father of four children. My youngest son struggles with a generalized anxiety disorder as well as obsessive compulsive tendencies and my youngest daughter has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Even without considering their own problems, my health or the innate issues of four children interacting in a small house etc it should be obvious to grasp how easily life can disrupt your schedule.

Over the last few years I have had to have surgeries on my wrist, my neck and lost all feeling from the shoulder down in my right arm along with a good measure of function from it. And I am right handed. This hasn't exactly helped my productivity, I'm afraid.

However, with that said I have been working on a story I began some time back recently. Trying to jump back into it and get myself back into a routine to occupy my mind. Even with extensive notes or previous work to guide me it isn't without difficulty to drop back into a story in the middle and try to move forward without problems.

While working on this story I was contacted regarding another old story, or I should say an initial part of one. Albeit vague, interest was expressed in the potential continuation of the tale. A topic of which I can admit (like most of my stories) that there may exist more written about or at the very least some detailed notes covering the direction of things.

Even when things throw me off track that doesn't mean I have completely drifted free from my anchor. I may not be able to return to every story or project and for those that I do it may take some time. But I don't generally just start something without intending to finish it. I need something to direct my passion, I rely on a routine I can focus myself on. Sometimes I get blown off course and I have to engage in alternate tasks until I can find my way back.

I doubt I will ever be able to quit being anything other than what I am. To anyone else out there governed by a similar nature I can only wish that your own anchors, regardless of how much you may find yourself drifting away from them, remain tethered enough that you never lose them.

Stay anchored, stay driven and do what you love. Life will always be there to rock the boat.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Giggles & Good Times.

Giggles & Good Times.

Yesterday afternoon I did something that I haven’t attempted in so many years that I scarcely can hazard a guess at how long it truly has been. I must confess that I ended up at the short end of the struggling against sleep stick on the ride there, home and eventually found myself somehow still in my chair instead of my bed. It was a wonderful experience. Honestly, I don’t even regret a moment of it.

My Wife and I took all four of our kids, along with my father-in-law and did our usual 1st of the month dinner at a local restaurant. However, we made one small change to our typical routine. We invited two old friends of mine and their daughter to join us.

And they did!

Now, for most people this in and of itself is probably a regular night out – completely without the merit of being worth mentioning. For us on the other hand it was a big deal. With the exception of my own immediate family we just simply do not do this sort of thing often for a variety of reasons. To put it bluntly; when you factor in my own troubles, our children, the size of our family, a limited financial flexibility and an innate avoidance for some of the more ‘normal’ activities people our age tend to gather for we just don’t get that many opportunities to go out.

That said the experience was altogether pleasant. There was a wealth of giggles all around and enough understanding to exclude any problems. It wasn’t anything special; mostly we just ate and shared some friendly conversation.

I hadn’t seen my friends since high school, aside from an occasional run in here and there. These were people I grew up that knew me well and I can say we instantly feel back into familiar patterns. Hence the abundance of audible amusement we all shared. I see precious few people who knew me from my childhood and even less who actually can tell you my name. For me, it was like winning the lottery.

The whole family had a blast. Even my Wife and children talked the whole way home and into the night about how much fun they had. In fact, my youngest daughter has already claimed that she has a brand new friend and was trying to set up more opportunities to get together with them.

I can only hope that we were not the only ones who had a good time but my gut tells me that I’m not far off by saying that we all probably did. Perhaps in the future more such events might be in store, who knows. Yet, should the chance not present itself for a repeat any time soon I know that I will enjoy the memory of so much laughter for a very long time.