The Freedom to Remember Birthdays

“A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.”-Leo Rosten

I’ve not been a good steward over my gift. I have not written for days, and before that it was weeks. There is a blank in my mind where words should be and I must tell you writer’s block is the worst form of narcissism: the kind that causes you to doubt rather than adore yourself. But it is no less a self-fixation that involves self-hypercriticism, self-cynicism, and self-bullying, among other things.

Yes, I wonder a lot about me. Will I write one decent sentence? Will I get into an MFA program? Am I a fiction writer? Will I get out of this life that is suffocating me? The answer is always the same, distant as if coming from the opposite end of a long corridor: “Yes. If you work for it.” In the silence of meditation I can hear it in my ear, soft as a whisper and clear as a cloudless sky.

In a phone conversation with my mom the other day, I told her I need to work on my selfishness. I forget birthdays often. Not distant Facebook friends’ birthdays, but important folks’ like my youngest nephew and my Granny. I don’t check my voicemail often, so I almost never return calls. Recently, at my mom’s 50th birthday party, I didn’t prepare anything to say and fumbled my way through when I was asked to say something. I am ashamed to admit that I am all about me—worrying about me, praying about me, sometimes taking me out to eat too often to console me.

What’s funny, is I forget to show up for myself when it comes to doing the essential things (e.g. pursuing my writing with passion, effort, and diligence; sending it to people in a position to help me improve it; posting it on this blog, etc.). I bet if I were willing to put some action behind the words “I am a writer” I could begin to live the life I want. I am sure doing that will lead me to the kind of success that gives one freedom to enjoy other people and truly engage in their lives.

In this moment, I am tired of complaining. I am gagging on the pervasive stench of my own laziness and procrastination. My fingers are plugging my ears to drown out the never-ending self-pity versus optimism score that plays in a loop in my mind. I want more; therefore, I must do more. These are the things I know. I’m hoping this post, a note as much to me as you, has struck the right cord. That a shift—the shift between knowing a thing, understanding a thing, and doing a thing—begins now. Pray for me this: the freedom to remember birthdays.


3 thoughts on “The Freedom to Remember Birthdays

  1. Thanks for the follow! 😀 I especially love the last line of this post. I recently met my future step brother-in-law (if that’s what you call it…) and he is constantly trying to improve himself. His goal is happiness. We often think of success in terms of money or recognition or accomplishments. But the basics of Buddhism tells us that we are born with our essential happiness. Loving your family (remembering birthdays) and yourself will make you happy. And of course following your writing passion! To that future step brother-in-law I recommended The Happiness Project. It’s both a book (which I have yet to read) and a blog (which I haven’t visited in a long time). Best of luck on your pursuit of writing, selflessness, and happiness.

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