Things I Learned in 2017

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

“The highest virtue does nothing. Yet, nothing needs to be done. The lowest virtue does everything. Yet, much remains to be done.” ~ Tao Te Ching chapter 38

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ~ Francis of Assisi

“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” ~ Theodore Isaac Rubin

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” ~ Mother Teresa

I’m not big on publishing lists. I know they’re the “thing” now. “Follow this list and/or do these 12 things to get …” Or, “These 14 books are must reads.” If you’re on social media, they float by your feed and are oh so tempting to read. Of course, for most of us, this year has been an extremely trying one with the state of politics in this country. And social media is a place where facts and opinions fly around as if they’re in a tornado. That’s why I’ve cut back on my social media time, and ignoring those lists, news reports, and opinion polls to pay more attention to my real friends has made me much happier.

Since, I’m happier and always thinking about what my experiences can teach me, I wanted to break my own rule and share some things I’ve learned this year. I’m not publishing them in a list, and you can take them or leave them as you choose. I do not profess to know what’s best for anyone. I’m still trying to figure out my own life.

I’m a slow learner. Some of the seeds for what I learned this year actually began in 2015. That’s the year I read and studied A Course in Miracles. I know, that’s the kind of book you can study your entire life and still gain new insights. So, I’m thinking of picking it up again on January 1 and studying it in 2018.

In any case one lesson I learned from my 2015 study was the whole idea of non-action. I didn’t understand that concept fully until this year, or at least, I understand it on a deeper level now. I may never fully understand it. Non-action is a concept I first encountered when I studied the Tao Te Ching years ago. It’s this paradoxical situation where, if you adopt non-action, you can accomplish more than if you run around filling every day with tasks to be accomplished. The way I understand it now is that if you have something you need to do, you wait for guidance before you act, you usually get a better solution than the one your tiny little ego would come up with.

I’m not good at this practice you understand, but when the presidential election blew up and some new attack on human rights, and the environment ensued on a daily basis, I felt paralyzed. What could I, one person, do to fight the descent into darkness? But I remembered lessons from all the spiritual teachers I’ve read over the years, and I felt really uncomfortable with that word “fight”. My understanding of non-action is still imperfect, but my experience has shown me that the statement “What you resist, persists,” is true. Practicing non-action gives you a chance to come up with a new solution to any problem. For example, I worked at a job I hated. All I could think about was how much I hated that job. And it got worse, not better until finally I nearly had a nervous breakdown and realized, I had the power to change my life if I allowed myself to get a new perspective. That was a huge turning point in the way I approached problems. But, I was still stuck in many old ways of thinking.

During graduate school, I took some playwrighting classes. I loved everything about writing, but I couldn’t see how I could make a living as a writer, so I set that aside. Money and creativity didn’t go together in my mind. Eventually, however, my desire to write became so strong that I quit my teaching job to become a full-time writer. And little by little, my thinking that money and creativity are mutually exclusive has been changing. I’m learning that writing to make money is not the goal. It most likely will not bring cash to my bank account. Expressing my viewpoint about life and working to understand myself better is now my goal. And if I can touch someone else with what I’m learning, then that might bring me some income, but more importantly, I will be adding to my own, and other people’s awakening.

I learned another vital lesson as I published my first novel this year. When working on a big project, you have to do the work in little chunks. There are definite stages to writing a book. Working on the first draft can be nerve wracking, especially if you’re someone like me who doesn’t do outlines. I get the general idea for my story and characters, but even if I plan to take the story in a certain direction, some other idea will take precedence. My characters don’t talk to me, but the muses visit me at odd times and I’m often surprised at what they tell me I need to write.

Once that first draft is finished, and that might be years after I started it, the fun part begins. At least I think it’s the fun part. Revising, reorganizing, filling in the blanks, and cutting out the unnecessary parts. After that the tedious process of line editing needs to be done. I’m not so fond of that part. But it’s better to make the manuscript as pristine as possible, because you never get another chance to make a good first impression.

And finally, when I published The Space Between Time, after seven years of work. I felt happy and satisfied. Like I had contributed something new to the world. It’s an intoxicating feeling similar to the way I feel at the end of a long rehearsal process when the play is appreciated by the audience. And no amount of money or awards can match that feeling of knowing I’ve done a job well.

I’m still working on the whole creativity, money connection, and letting go of my old viewpoint about money and it’s importance in our lives. I do know that following my creative urges has always brought rewarding experiences, and interesting people into my life. So, for now, I’m going to forget about the money part, and just keep working on developing my creativity muscles. Maybe if I do that, I’ll get to meet some really interesting people and even do some traveling to book signings and talks about my creative process. That would be really fun!

I hope 2018 proves to be a good, and enlightening year for you.

Blessings, and thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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