[I almost didn’t release this post. Like so many others, I didn’t think that it was good enough. I simultaneously thought that it as both too self-congratulatory and too self-pitying. It was too much about me, who cares about what’s happening in my life? Well, I do for starters. So I’m posting this for me, to remind me of everything I learned.]
It’s been an incredible few weeks for me: I just got from an incredible adventure with my best friend Hali; we spent two weeks in Europe, exploring 9 different cities in 8 countries and walking over 150 miles, an experience so amazing I’ll likely be discussing it in another blog post. Aside from all the great food and experiences, Hali helped me work through a lot of things that have been holding me back in my life. Fears, insecurities, regrets.
While in Berlin, I saw the broken remains of the Berlin Wall. In fact Hali and I even followed it’s old course through part of the city, walking in what would have been no man’s land. 40 years ago we would have been shot for walking in that area. Instead we strolled down streets lined with restaurants and stores.
It was a powerful reminder that walls can be broken down, and that things can get better when they are. I’ve built so many walls to protect myself that even ancient Constantinople would be envious. I’ve made friends yes, but I feel like I’m yelling down at them from the ramparts, never letting them actually get inside.
The First Wall: Stop Isolating Myself
This wall has been coming down slowly but surely over the past two to three years; I’m hoping that my trip to Europe heralds the final fall of that wall, because I had a lot of anxieties going on this trip. We’ve been friends for 10 years, but this was the first time we were going to essentially be living together for a solid two weeks. We even had to share a bed on a few occasions. Surely living with my disgusting habits, my boring personality, or just looking at my stupid face would drive her absolutely crazy.
Yet this trip made me realize how truly remarkable our friendship is. I still can’t believe how well we got along, the magical evenings we spent together just laughing over the ridiculous events of our day… how naturally we coexisted. Platonic love between friends is one of the greatest things in the world, and it’s sad how little it’s valued in society when compared with romantic love. It was that love, that connection, that allowed me to open up to Hali about the walls that have come to isolate me.
One of the things that’s always been a source of profound sadness in my life, is that my friends have never been as close as I’d like. With the exception of Hali, I’ve never had a friend I would consider close, and that’s been an incredibly lonely experience. For a long time, my whole life really, I believed that was because I simply wasn’t someone who people wanted to befriend. The reality, though, is that this was my own fault. How could anyone become a close friend of mine, when I’ve closed myself off behind walls taller and thicker than a fortress battlement?
Yet despite these walls I’ve built, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people who have never stopped trying to get through them. Nearly three years ago now, I was invited to play Dungeons and Dragons with a small group of friends. These people are some of the most intimidatingly talented people I’ve met; artists, actors, writers, and occasionally philosophers. But while on my trip with Hali, I told her how much I like this group of people and how much I regret that I’m not closer to them.
Yet how can I expect to get closer to them if I never let anything get close?
Hali and I spent around 6 months planning our trip to Europe, but you know when I told my D&D friends about my trip? About two weeks before I left, too afraid they’d think I was bragging about my good fortune. They ask me how my day is, I say it was fine, even if it wasn’t. Heck, they even asked about my trip when I got back and I barely managed to string together a few descriptions of our trip, constantly second-guessing what I should say because I was afraid of boring them.
I need to change this, because I want to experience more the connection I feel with Hali, to be more than just acquaintances with people. I need to destroy these walls I’ve built around myself. They weren’t built in a vacuum, they were built brick by brick by various cruelties through the years, but I’m finally realizing that I was never building a fortress to keep myself safe.
I was building myself a prison.
Wall 2: Start WRITING
This is the biggest wall of them all. I’ve written about it before, several times in fact, but it’s one I’ve never been able to break through. I’m hardly alone in this, Ernest Hemingway once said that:
There’s nothing to writing, all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
And bleeding sucks.
Nowadays I use my work schedule as an excuse as to why I don’t write. I work 56 hours a week, sometimes more, of course I don’t write who has time? The honest truth is that I do have time, I could spare at least an hour or two a day to writing instead of watching Netflix at the end of the day. I just need to buckle down and do it.
As amazing as my adventure in Europe was, it was also quite expensive. So on my return I started looking for some extra money to hold myself over. I had some in an old paypal account, a deposit from Patreon and after seeing that, decided to check my old Patreon page. Now honestly I haven’t looked at my Patreon account in years. Why? I figured no one would actually be paying me. I barely update this blog, I don’t have any talent as writer, you pick the excuse I probably told it to myself.
What I saw on my Patreon page almost made me cry. There was close to $300.00 stashed away in that account. It made me both incredibly happy and made me feel awful, because I didn’t earn that money. I didn’t maintain my blog, I ignored all the amazing people who donated it, didn’t do anything I said I would do. Yet I’m so incredibly grateful for everyone who chose to donate, because…my words fail me. I cannot express how grateful I am.
I need to start updating this blog more often, and I think perhaps its time to stop trying to force myself to do reviews just because that what was what was popular. Maybe I need to do what I’ve always wanted to do: post stories, about my life, fiction I’ve written, articles on writing. I’ll still do reviews when the mood strikes me, and I actually have time to play games and watch movies again, but now I think it’s time to switch focus.
I need to start posting more creative works, and slowly but surely this wall around my writing will come down. And when that happens…
Well who knows what might happen?
Even though I don’t know you, I love reading your posts and it’s great to hear you’re doing well. You sure squeezed a lot into two weeks!
Thanks Philip! Appreciate the good thoughts! And yeah, it was whirlwind trip for sure, but it was a ton of fun!
John, you’re such a great writer! I’ve been telling you this fact for years…when will you believe me?!!?? Gale Leamons
Gale! Haha I’m so glad to hear from you! I’ve been wondering how you’re doing? Send me an email if you have time, I’d love to catch up!
Also I know, you’ve been telling me for years and so have so many other people, but it’s just a constant struggle with my brain. Thanks for still reading my stuff, even after all these years.
Amazing story John!.. at last your imaginary wall lay away brick by brick.. i hope you write more blogs encouraging peoples fear to overcome. And motivational blogs.. thanks.. nice story.
Nice to hear you are making improvements. Just remember, self improvement is a marathon not a sprint, and set backs don’t stop us, they just slow us down!
It’s great to see you’re improving yourself and removing those bricks and walls around you. Nice pics of Europe BTW! I’ve been following your blog for some years already and I don’t care the long waits, I’m always eager to read your next post. Keep it up and continue removing all those barriers around ya.