Thursday, August 21, 2008

Revelations of a Workaholic

It's 6:00 a.m. here in the Aloha state, and I'm rubbing the sleep out of my eyes as I start my morning. As far as work productivity goes, I've gotten a lot accomplished this week. I finished building two blogs, updated my website, spent an hour on the phone with my agent talking about my next book, art directed some cover art with my illustrator who's painting a cover for my next short story, updated my press release, and wrote a magazine article about how my grandfather, who is a WWII hero, inspired my novel. I'm getting ready to add that article along with some photos in my next post. I'll be sharing how I got to go to Normandy, France this past summer with my ninety-year-old grandfather and the amazing experiences we had.

In addition to all my publishing and promotion tasks, I've been preparing for my big move next week, calling the electric company, Internet company, shopping for a new mattress, and lining up a mover. I'm ready to end my gypsy lifestyle and live in a home that's mine with only my stuff in it.

I've been mostly working these last couple of months. Fun work, the kind that makes me leap out of bed in the morning. Work that I enjoy so much that ten hours will just fly by. And life would be just a bowl of cherries right now if work wasn't my only mode. I'm behaving like a typical workaholic, who puts work before everything else. Whew, I'm finally willing to admit it, look at the imbalance closely, and change it. This has been pointed out to me by a close friend, as well as my roommate, Eli the cat, who demands a lot of attention, especially while I'm at my computer type-type-typing away, and all he wants is some human affection, and my attention is zoned in on writing or surfing cyberspace.

I found myself getting angry a few times that the cat was all over me, motors running, loving me unconditionally. It was really pushing my buttons. I felt angry because this little fur ball of bottomless affection is breaking my concentration. After some deep self-reflection, I discovered I have a fear pattern running me. Afraid if I don't keep working, my first book is going to fail in the marketplace, I'm going to lose my writing muse, and the dream career I've been working on is just going to end in failure. So there it is, a fear of failure. On the flip side of that is that I've been driven by an extreme desire to be successful like Stephen King. I want to walk into a bookstore and see not just one of my books on the shelf but twenty, a body of work I'm proud of. And the idea of earning royalties off all those books makes me want it more. Because residual cash flow gives an author freedom to quit his day job and write more books. This is all great as a vision for my future, but what about enjoying the here and now?

Life happens in the moment, and it's easy to live out in the future, saying, "As soon as I reach this point, then I'll be happy, then I'll relax, or then I'll spend time with my loved ones or do those things I'm most passionate about." The other day while meditating I began to feel into the energy of being a workaholic. I had this vision that inside me were hundreds of gerbils running on metal wheels. As I examined them closely, I saw their little feet were spinning the wheels faster and faster. Their black beady eyes kept glancing at me pleadingly, as if to say, "How long do we have to keep this up?" I suddenly was overcome with a sense of compassion about how hard I've been driving myself. I took a deep breath, then in my meditation I reached over and pulled an imaginary lever. There was a metallic shriek, then all the wheels began slowing down. I blew the factory whistle. All the gerbils climbed down from their wheels, looked up at me smiling, then grabbed their tiny little lunchboxes and hopped on home.

I had a revelation during that meditation. To be happy, I don't have to work like some gerbil on a wheel. I decided it's time to find some balance between working and relaxing and having fun. Spend time with people I care about. It would also be good to get out and date again. Go out and share some spicy conversation with a special woman. Romance is something, that I admit humbly, is an area of my life I have neglected for several months. I always told myself I wouldn't become that person who gets so consumed by work that I would have no time or energy left for the people who matter.

So this is me turning over a new leaf. Today I'm only working the morning, and then taking the afternoon off. I'm also taking Friday completely off to go do something fun around the island. You know, one of those activities tourists do when they come here to pretty much do nothing but explore and play and frolic at the beach. So I'm going to go do some much needed frolicking. I might even flirt with some ladies and spark up a new romance. Hawaii is the magical destination where anything can happen. Especially when you can allow the inner gerbils to just relax and enjoy the moment.

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