I’ve been absent from social media for a while though I’ve popped in a few times to let all my friends know that everything is okay. I know from personal experience that when someone who's very active on social networks takes leave, we assume that life has taken a turn for the worse. However, my leave had nothing to do with life becoming more challenging. I needed some time to discern the reasons behind me doing all things creative, be it music or writing.
Those of us dreamers, who are trying to make our creativity profitable, know the importance of having a solid public image through social networks. Tooting your own horn is part of marketing your product, which in this case it’s you. My experience has been less than pleasing. Yes, I’ve met wonderful people thanks to Facebook. I’ve supported them and they’ve supported me for years. I’ve formed many great friendships and it’s been a blessing to say the least. But I couldn’t shake the feeling of being stranded in the middle of an ocean, the wind blowing the sails of my small craft wherever it pleased while I looked for the paddles to stir it in the desired direction. There is no formula to success as a writer or as a musician. We can’t control who will love our work or how much it will sell, but we can control why we do what we do.
As I wrote in a previous post, I’d taken on a quest of digging the past for patterns that were still blocking me in the present. What I found was a long list of abandoned relationships with friends and family because they reminded me of past failures. Every single time I’d reinvent myself and try a new me, not fully understanding that by doing this I was distancing myself from who I really am. That’s when I decided to take a break from writing and give classical piano another chance. After all, it’d been my original intention as a child and as a young woman. I took a hiatus from my writing group, began practicing every day, and set the goal of performing a concert in the Spring of 2017. I was making serious progress musically until doubt crept in and I began asking myself why I felt the need to write a 99K-word novel instead of a good short story, or why I felt the need to do a classical concert instead of playing for myself or for my students. Was I being of service to anyone by stubbornly aiming for the highest goals? What was I trying to prove? The truth came at once. I wasn’t being of service to anyone but me. I’d fallen into the trap of self-glorification that comes with pride. That same trap that makes us live a life through social networks that is far from the truth, where we check-in fantastic places, post pictures of fancy-looking dinners, post selfies that make us look ten years younger, and announce our most recent published works and acceptances in order to get "likes" and congratulatory messages. I was that woman posting pictures of me playing the piano to let everyone know how talented or motivated I was. Would any of that matter twenty-five years from now when I look back in life to assess what I have offered the world?
I stopped writing and playing and focused on my work as a teacher only to realize that I’d been pushing myself too far because somewhere along the line I’d linked my worth to my productivity. Meanwhile I felt the need to go back to church for some unknown reason. When my husband heard that I’d be attending mass that Sunday he didn’t say anything, but I knew he was confused. And so was I. I was confused and scared. I’d visited Baptist churches with my two exes regularly, and while I enjoyed the sermons and hymns I never considered myself a Baptist or a born-again Christian. My sisters and I had a very eclectic upbringing, and yes, we went to mass as children, but we had other influences as well which helped us become open-minded, highly-spiritual adults. Since moving to the United States in 1990 I had only visited Catholic churches sporadically, usually when something major was happening—an illness, a death in the family, or a major problem at work. But in early October this year I began attending mass with the certainty that there was a reason behind this call to return to Catholicism, though I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what it was. I only knew one thing—if I wanted to give true meaning to my life, I had to learn to be humble. And when it comes to humility there’s one teacher that stands out from the rest. It was early November, I had been attending mass for four consecutive weeks, when I had a vision with Jesus. It happened as I was waking up. I can’t even recall it if was a dream or a product of my imagination, but whatever it was, it changed me.
It took real courage to utter the words that marked my surrender to God. I was driving to work when I invited Him to enter my heart and change me so that I could be of service. Before saying the words I felt my spirit being pulled upwards, and the impending responsibility that comes with giving permission. Yes, it took real courage, I was risking my image and relationships. I could picture myself as I’d pictured other Christians in the past—a religious nutcase, with the bible under the arm and a finger pointed at sinners. But in the end I realized I was getting ahead of myself, fighting my own stereotypes, and I had to trust the process. It was Jesus, not Satan or little green men, calling. I knew that with Him I’d be in good hands. I also knew I wasn’t being influenced by anyone or anything. This was something that came to me when least expected, a call with sirens and red flashing lights. A call from a higher order that needed to be treated with respect.
As of today I’m still figuring things out. One thing I’ve learned is that God doesn’t come into your life to change your path. That could be the case for some people, but it isn’t the case for most of us. God only comes in to give purpose to what you're already doing. My hope is to continue writing and playing, not to prove me and the world how great I am, but to glorify God by focusing on the beauty of His creation. Rest assured I won’t be blogging about my faith and I won’t be writing about religion. This is a single post, an unnecessary post, but one I thought could help me mark a new beginning for myself as a writer.
I’m sure I’ll have many other challenges along the way, but for now I’m very pleased with the way my life is going. I’m taking baby steps because it’s very possible that the minute I tackle creative projects I’ll give way to old habits and I’ll once again find myself sailing without direction in a sea of pride. If it happens I’ll simply remind myself that I’m a work in progress. All of us are. But at least now I’m aware of my blind spots and I can stir myself in the right direction once I lose focus. Because now I carry a compass that gently reminds me where I am and where I need to be.