I have always been a well-digger, by which I mean I have always had a lot of interests. I’m a naturally curious person, and at various times in my life I’ve immersed myself in everything from writing to business to marketing to politics to cooking and baking to homemaking to antiques and antique selling to Buddhism to yoga to meditation to fitness…
You get the idea.
It took me awhile to realize there is a difference – a big one – between an interest and a passion.
There are a lot of great things about being curious, but one of the downsides is that it’s easy to get distracted. The sad truth of it is that there are only so many hours in the day. There is only so much available psychic space in a day too.
The last fifteen years or so I’ve gotten better about sensing when I’m off track, when I’ve let my interests monopolize my time instead of treating them like a condiment to the meal of my passions. There are so many fascinating things in the world and they have never been more accessible to us than they are right now. What can I say? It’s easy to get sidetracked.
The Indian proverb above is expanded upon by Swami Satchidananda who explains it this way:
“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you leave that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again.”
Sometimes we dig deep and actually hit water. In that case, we should sit awhile and enjoy the fruits of our labor, taste the water and see if it’s to our liking. Even if it is, there is no guarantee it will always be that way (and no guarantee the well will always have water – wells do run dry). And for the record, it’s okay if you hit water and decide to move on anyway. I’m a big believer in the idea that sometimes you have to get what you think you want to know you don’t actually want it.
Either way, it’s natural and healthy that we should re-evaluate our priorities from time to time. We are always changing. Every second of every day cells are dying and being born in our bodies, perceptions are shifting, we are accounting for new information by discarding that which is no longer true or useful and making room for that which is.
Well, I hope we’re all doing that. Jesus… I’m freaking glad I’m not the same person now I was when I was twenty, and I pray to the Universe I am not the same person when I’m seventy that I am now. That’s part of the magic, isn’t it? The knowledge that there’s a vast repository of experience and knowledge out there? That we are free to draw on it at any time?
I’ve dug a lot of wells, but the through-lines of my life have been reading, writing, and learning. I have never lost my desire for any of these things. Lately I’ve been sensing myself at a crossroads. Some of it is probably that Caroline, my youngest, will be leaving for college next month, and while I still have two young people at home (one getting his Masters and one commuting while he gets his undergrad degree), knowing the kids are all officially adults is a huge change that’s bound to bring some introspection.
But the truth is, I’ve never really lamented my impending empty nest. My children and I are incredibly tight (as those of you who have seen us en masse at book events can attest!). I miss them when they go. But there are so many things I’ve been waiting to do and experience and it really does feel like time.
So the big question for me is which well will I dig next? Specifically, how will I use my words to honor the things that have moved to the forefront of my consciousness?
Because I’ve always been committed to a joyful life. I’ve done some intense things to achieve joy and harmony (quitting a lucrative career with nothing else in the works, moving 3,000 miles to a place where I knew no one, getting a divorce), and one thing I can say with certainty is that I have never regretted a single one.
I’m incredibly fortunate to live in such harmony. I acknowledge this with gratitude while also saying for anyone else out there who feels the need for change that I have made conscious choices to live this way, and in case you should think I live a trouble-free existence (no perfect-life filter here!), there are sacrifices (I have no health insurance, as the sole breadwinner for my family, my income is sporadic, which can be terrifying, etc.).
All of which is to say you have the power to radically alter your life if you feel the need – and so do I.
In fact, I’ll let you in on one of my favorite secrets: THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE NUMBER OF TIMES AND WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN REINVENT YOURSELF.
Say that again for yourself. Believe it. I do.
I’ve always found it most helpful to work backward from what I want. Working forward from where I am now can be too intimidating. I’m not sure I would have known what to do with the advice to move 3,000 miles with four kids or get a book deal. But knowing I wanted a book deal meant knowing that I had to have a book to sell which meant knowing I actually had to learn more about craft and finish a book, possibly several.
So that was my first real writing goal: finish one book, even if it sucked (it did).
But I dug that well through five books to sell Prophecy of the Sisters. I did not allow myself to be distracted by other interests or by doubt or by anything but the shovel in my hand, the dirt I was throwing over my shoulder, the possibility of water.
So what do I want now? I want to travel freely and expand my writing to the areas that have been speaking to me lately. I want to continue living joyously and help others to do the same. I want to keep learning and being open to all the possibilities.
With that in mind, I’m doing a lot of centering work right now to determine the best road to take for the next phase of my journey. I know which direction I’m heading, but I’m still charting the course.
I hope you’ll join me on the path. There is room for all.