Monday, January 16, 2023

The Wanderer


I have often quoted Steven Pressfield, author of “Put your Ass where Your Heart Wants to Be.” 


For a writer, it's writing. For a musician, it's making music. For a computer programmer, it's programming. That is if those things are where your heart wants to be. 


Now I know a person must make a living—that is, pay the rent and buy groceries, but there is a desire to do the thing that feeds our spirit.


I’ve been paying my dues to become a Real Estate Agent, and I like houses, helping people, and making money, but what I really want to do is write.


See, I’m writing now. 


Most of today was sucked up with taking an Ethics Course required to become a REALTOR and a member of the Multiple Listing Service. It required study and taking ANOTHER FINAL EXAM. I thought I was complete with those. 


I’m fried.


It was nice to think that someone (William North in 1913) wrote the Code with 16 Articles (plus ten million “Standard Practices”)


Before that, it was “Buyer beware,” for there were many unscrupulous characters out to fleece the public—Multiple First mortgages, get-rich schemes, and the attitude of “Public be damned.” 


The idea behind the Code is “Under all is Land.”


The principle is that in a democracy having many people own many small parcels of land is strength. 


Big land barons controlling great amounts of property suck the strength out of a society.


Kinda makes you want to run out and buy a piece of land, doesn’t it?


But I’m here talking to you, and my fingers and brain like it. I can settle down. I feel calm. I’m writing. It’s the thing I want to do.


I wanted to talk to you about the “Wilderness” that Pressfield talks about.

No, it isn’t a piece of forest such as the land I was talking about. His “Wilderness” is that time when you are avoiding your calling. 


Many people wander around in the Wilderness for months, years, or their entire life.


Many excuses exist: “My dad wants me to be a doctor when I want to be a pilot.” “I can’t do it; I’m not smart enough, good enough, beautiful enough, talented enough,” or other not-enoughs.


“You can catch the ride early or catch it late,” writes Pressfield. “But, like it or not, you were born with your ticket. Sooner or later, the conductor will call, ‘All Aboard!’ and the train—with you on it—will pull out of the station.”


Some might object to the use of the word, “Calling.” I believe, for some, it is. For others, it is a deliberate decision that can grow into a want, desire, or dream you desperately want to fulfill.


Pressfield talks about a friend who is into a “Shadow career.” He knows his calling is out there, but he's still in the Wilderness, and it will be no surprise to learn that his social drinking has taken a dangerous turn. 


Pressfield wandered in the Wilderness for years, basically being a bum, until he pulled himself together and sat down at the typewriter. (He put his ass where his heart wanted to be.) Now he is helping other writers get their act together.


I don’t know if I am describing him accurately, but that’s the gist of it.


I guess we can have a “shadow career” to eat and keep from freezing to death while also pursuing our calling. I’ve heard of people getting up at 3 a.m. to do their writing before going to work. They sneak it in. They practice. 


So, I guess, what I am doing here, is to say. “Go for it.” I know I’m a wanderer, but I do it purposefully, as in the search for the berries, find ripe fruit, go for a swim, to sit under a waterfall (a little one) and wear plaid with stripes.





Movie of the week Lilies of the Field, 1963,  with Sidney Poitier, who won an Academy Award for his role. I remembered it, staring Poitier, with nuns, and singing Amen. That was it. Watching it again was a delight. What a charming film.