Finding The End

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For most of my life I’ve been someone who’s always had one or several goals positioned out in my future like homing beacons. These goals have always been professional. It’s not unusual for a writer, I suppose. A finished book itself is like a goal for the author as he begins Chapter One. Then the agent becomes a goal, and the publishing contract, and then the next publishing contract, and then the Amazon ranking and the awards. There is no end to the goals we can set.

Goals are helpful for pointing me in a direction. We talk about the “road of life” but in truth there is no road at all. The horizon is an endless and featureless expanse where I can always go in absolutely any direction I please. It’s nice to feel like I’m headed in a direction, that I am not merely wandering until I run into something interesting.

The problem with goals is that they exist entirely in the future, and no matter how dearly I would like to see those goals realized I always live in the present. I can’t escape the present no matter how much I dream and dream of the future. The present is where I feel good or bad, where I am bored or interested, where I feel safe or unsafe. The present is also where inspiration comes to me, where ideas appear, where opportunities reveal themselves. It’s where all of life is actually happening.

Sometimes it feels like my goals and my actual life are in conflict. Yes, yes, yes I want all these things, but what I always want more than anything is to feel good right now. I want to be interested in something right now, curious right now, at peace right now. I can’t ever stop wanting to feel good. I worry sometimes that I’m undisciplined, that this constant, relentless need to feel good is an aimless path that will lead me eventually far, far away from the goals that continue to light my dreams.

Fortunately, writing teaches me the true relationship between the present and the future. Every story is written one word at a time. It’s the only way to do it. And the only way to find the next right word is to find the word that feels the best, the one that fits, the one for which there is no resistance. I want to finish every story, but I can’t be too concerned about the end when I’m at the beginning or in the middle. To get to the last word I must first find the next word, and the next word, and the next word until the words that feel best right now are “the end.”   

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.