I’ve been rereading Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife recently, and trying to apply the things to my life in my own way. In doing so, I’m actually giving name to the ways I already protect myself and my creativity.
There’s an old piece of riding wisdom that I use to guide the majority of my life: “Keep your eyes ahead of the horse. Where you’re looking is where you will end up.”
It’s true, too. Look downwards, your entire body tells the horse to slow down, and you’ll be caught by surprise if there’s an obstacle. Look to the side, you’ll lean that way. Look ahead though, and you’re seeing the obstacles before they get there, the best path to your goal. Your entire body is gathering, transmitting subtle signals to the horse to go go go! It’s already composing itself to be there, not here. In a way, it’s a little like living in the future and existing in the present.
That advice has stood me well! I make plans based on what information and resources are on hand at the moment. I have the next 5 years planned out. I have a mental image of the ultimate goal. I don’t know precisely how I’ll get there, and I try not to commit to anything too strenuously. Flexibility is key for anyone in an environment a stressful and changeable as ours.
Be a ship: Let the winds of change propel you, but control your own course. Spend time conceptualizing where you want to be, and believe that you can be there. Ask yourself why you want to be that future self. Make sure it’s for your own reasons. You should be choosing the path. Go where you want to go, not where someone else wants to go.
In my experience, that’s the best part of Booklife: the whole; the joy that comes from being right where you want to be.