When I was younger and first breaking from Catholicism, I became very interested in Wicca and paganism. Something about the more natural ways of thought and worship appealed a great deal to me: I am by ethnicity, like, Scotch-Welsh-Dutch (or something); I grew up as a Boy Scout and so was often camping or hiking, which was why I liked the idea of nature as the truest and most accurate expression of the divine (I don’t know about God or Jesus either way, but show me a new day and I know where I stand); and I liked the idea of not having to go to Church or receive Eucharist or pray to know the way of God.
By the time I got to college, that had begun again to change. Studying theology with Robert Kennedy, roshi, S.J. remains one of the most formative experiences of my life, with consequences and repercussions I am even still parsing. Back then, in the way of the arrogance and pretension that became my characteristic for several years, I declared myself a “Zen Christian Wiccan,” because I thought I had discovered over the years that there is, inherently, either no difference whatsoever between prayer, spells, and meditation, or that the differences we perceive between them, like the differences we perceive between Coca Cola and Pepsi, more a result of brilliant advertising campaigns and the placebo effect than anything else.
Nowadays, I know better how little I know.
When I studied with Irvin Kershner, one of the things he often taught us was that you are who you believe you are, or pretend to be, or something like that. It’s hard for me to explain, exactly, even though I think I get what he meant. I take it to mean that if you act like the person you want to be, that is how people will perceive you, and because our perceptions inevitably shape our reality, you ultimately become who you want to be.
Truth? Not sure.
But on the occasion of the Samhain feast of my 30th year, I’ve been thinking more about it. What have I done, and who have I become. Because several years ago, I set out to become a popular writer. I began to act like a popular writer.
Did I get there?
I don’t know either way, to be candid, but I wonder if part of the negative reaction/criticism I’ve received over the past couple of years came as a result of that. I suppose, if people perceived arrogance or my being “full of” myself, it must have come as a result of my behavior, because, really, let’s be honest, what else has anyone had to go on?
Well. Besides my book, response to which has been overwhelmingly positive. Which seems to me further evidence that it must have been me or my behavior.
Just something I’ve been thinking about. Mainly because, I used to consider the Samhain the ending and beginning of a New Year, in honor of the ancient Celtic feast. That was what it always was to my ancestors; the final day of the final harvest, the time to reap what you have sown, the time to be mindful of life and its consequences, and also a time to begin anew. If it was the start of a new year, surely such a new day should come with resolutions, no?
No, I decided, in subsequent years. And, most recently, now.
Because it doesn’t make sense, in the same way that New Year’s resolutions never made sense to me? Why wait for some arbitrary day on someone else’s arbitrary calendar to decide to make positive changes in your life?
Because, when you think about it, every day technically begins a new year. Maybe we don’t think of it that way because society has agreed on the Gregorian calendar and leap years and Roman months and days for the most part Norse, but I’ve decided that my personal way to mark the Samhain of my 30th year is to declare it my last. My last time thinking of it as a new year, a new start, a time for resolutions. I had considered participating in NaNoWriMo this year, but why should any single month be the one for national novel writing? Maybe, instead of trying to become a popular writer or pretending I am, I should just get to writing, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a writer who restricted himself to any given month. Not like Shakespeare ever looked at a calendar and thought, “Ah, it’s November, I shall now write The Tragedie of Macbeth in thirty days,” or, perhaps more accurately, “Forsooth, it is the eleventh month of another year of our lord, and in honor of this time of year, I shall compose a play concerning witches and prophecies, and I shall complete it before the next moon.”
I think, really, I’m feeling like I’m 30 (which, of course, is another arbitrary number/day/year thing, when I consider it). But mostly I’m feeling like I finished at USC, and it’s time for me to be more responsible. I feel like I need to take more responsibility rather than looking to the calendar to do so, and so I am. I don’t yet know exactly what that means, but I have a feeling it has to do with more mindfulness about where I am and what I’m doing. It may mean posting less because, let’s face it, maybe in the course of trying to become a popular writer I ended up becoming a semi-popular blogger, and that’s not what it’s ever been about for me.
I’m not sure yet, to be honest, but whatever it is, I intend that it will be obviously apparent.
Anyway, just some stuff I’ve been thinking about today. And now I think it’s time to stop, and to think about other things. Like scary movies and chocolate and Supernatural. Happy Halloween or Samhain or anything else, for that matter. The best of life and love to you, so mote it be.