May Mayhem: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

How does one engage with life fully while also managing the emotional risks inherent in doing so?

May Mayhem: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Hello, Dreamer!

For a month that ought to have been long and productive, full of time to do anything and everything and some more, what with 31 full days, each longer and brighter than any we've experienced in a while, May has simply gone screeching past.

The magnolias and tulips have bloomed and gone. The maples and the oaks beckon us outdoors, waving at us their branches laden with new leaves.

The breeze, whenever it blows, stirs a chill all around, as if to remind us that summer is not truly here yet, and that all of this golden magnificence is merely a teaser, a glimpse of what is to come. Possibilities unfolding.

I love the neither-here-nor-thereness of spring. Because, basking in this coexistence of cool wind and warm sunshine, we need not think about the biting cold of the winter just gone by nor the harsh heat of the summer yet to come.

Spring is a season in which I find it easy to be happy, filled with joy, and at peace with myself and the world around me. When I look up at the clear blue sky and stare into its vastness, it is easy for me to be kind and forgiving towards the world at large but most importantly, towards myself.

It's likely the optimism of new births and growth that is lifting my spirits. But also, the older I grow, the more I realize how little of life is truly in our control.

Most of us are brought up to believe that if we only study hard, work hard, do the right things, the ones prescribed to us by other people or culture or society or even by our own hearts, then we'd have a shot at a 'good' life.

That is true to some extent. Unless we show up or do the work, there are likely no rewards to be claimed.

But the flip side of such thinking is that when the rewards don't come despite our best efforts, when life is messy and disappointing, we are quick to believe that we must have gone wrong somewhere.

Ah, if only we had moved halfway across the world ... if only we had eaten more greens and less chocolate ... if only we had been better at setting boundaries ... if only ... if only ... if only ...

The fantasy that life could have been different had we made different choices or had our circumstances been different is simply that — a fantasy that has nothing to do with our current reality whatsoever.

The goal of adulthood is to let go of the other possible existences and to make the best of the one.

A successful adult is one who understands that it doesn't matter which life you ultimately pick, only that you live it well.

The same potential for, say, happiness exists whether you are a construction worker, porn actor, or wealthy industrialist.

~ Physician Chris Ballas, The Last Psychiatrist

cherry blossoms in full bloom under a blue sky
Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

The reason I've been mulling on these lines so much this month is because May has been a busy month full of life stuff, many with disappointing outcomes.

A property dispute. A rejected application for a travel document. A 6-year-old needing encouragement to stay true to himself. Adults deceiving and manipulating, conspiring instead of collaborating. Past trauma resurfacing and knocking me sideways at the most inconvenient of moments.

Instead of writing fiction, I've been writing to communicate and cajole, to urge and persuade, to convince and call out.

In the back of my head is this nagging thought that life shouldn't be so difficult. And if it is, that's clearly because I'm doing something wrong.
In the same spirit that we are quick to attribute any success to our hard work and perseverance, we are also quick to attribute difficulties to our perceived shortcomings.

We do this in our creative pursuits too, congratulating ourselves for an anthology or an album well-received only to berate ourselves for anything that the audience might consider less than stellar.

One of the best antidotes to this kind of thinking comes from Elizabeth Gilbert in her TED talk, "Your elusive creative genius". She delves into the question of creating a safe distance between herself and the outcomes of her creative pursuits.

If I were to take her words and reframe them in the context of life itself, rather than creative pursuits alone, this is probably what I am asking.

How does one weather the ups and downs of life without falling into emotional ruin? How does one engage with life fully while also managing the emotional risks inherent in doing so?

Poet Danna Faulds tells us exactly what to do.

ALLOW by Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life.

Try corralling a lightning bolt,

containing a tornado. Dam a

stream and it will create a new

channel. Resist, and the tide

will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry

you to higher ground. The only

safety lies in letting it all in —

the wild and the weak; fear,

fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of

the heart, or sadness veils your

vision with despair, practice

becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your

known way of being, the whole

world is revealed to your new eyes.

Practice becomes simply bearing the truth.

I don't have any answers to the questions I keep asking, but it is evident that I ask these questions with great fervour only when the truth, or reality, becomes unbearable.
Which, ironically, is perhaps the best time to not ask questions or seek answers but to sit in the discomfort of what is.

And for someone like me, who's had a lifetime of practice of running away from what is, I wonder how many lifetimes it will take to practice being with what is.

Yet, it is never too late to begin.

My Writings in Other Places

Dying Wishes in the YoungW store

My words and works have been appearing in other places on the Internet, and I wanted to point you in these directions.

Toronto-based artisan shop, YoungW, has stocked copies of my novel, Dying Wishes, in their online store!

YoungW is a young independent store, selling ideas and inspirations for a more analogue life. Its founder, Elena Woo, and her ideas have played an influential role in getting me off social media and back into the thick of artistry and beauty, of creativity and joy.

Every Intention by Ashley Janssen

In my frenzy to unsubscribe from almost everything, I also gave up a fortnightly newsletter on productivity that I used to really enjoy: Every Intention by Ashley Janssen.

It's packed with wisdom and practical tips, grace and understanding. Yet, I unsubscribed for the simple reason that I had gotten into a pattern of seeking the silver bullet in other people's words and wisdom instead of peering into my own dark and deeply troubled shadow.

When I unsubscribed, Ashley wrote to me asking why. I was so surprised to hear from her, it was such a joy to not be bid goodbye by a mere automated response, that I wrote a lengthy, heart-baring response to her. The TLDR version of that response was "It's not you, it's me."

Inspired by my email, Ashley wrote a wonderful post on distractions and focus, calling my email the best break-up letter she has ever received!

In a World Full Of Distractions, How Do You Get Your Focus Back?
Sometimes you need to do an inventory of the many things vying for your attention and make sure you give it to the ones that actually matter.

I still pop over to Ashley's website to read her latest musings. We've grown to become a little more than acquaintances, or so I'd like to think based on the heartfelt emails we've shared with each other.

This is how the wonderful world of words and writing has led me to meet some amazing and very inspiring creatives and entrepreneurs, executing their passions and trying to show up as their best selves, day after day after day!

Tales for Dreamers

a glimpse into your future

Life most certainly runs in cycles.

A decade and two months ago, I wrote this tale. I have no idea what I was thinking back then. And little did past-me know that in the future, I (she) would read this and gasp a little in shock and smile quite indulgently.

Because the timing is just right, considering the thoughts that have been swirling in my head this month!

tales for dreamers: a glimpse into the future
I’ve seen what the future holds for you. Would you like me to tell you all about it?

Books You May Love

This has been a month full of surprises when it came to reading.

For once, I ended up shelving books by my favourite authors into the DNF (did not finish) pile. This has happened with not one, not two, but with three favourite authors, and it has been rather depressing for me to experience that.

Because it reinforces how little of the reader's experience is truly in the author's control!

But, but, but ... I found myself picking up a different kind of book and devouring it, much to my own surprise!

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett is written in the form of audio transcripts of iPhone recordings made by Little Smithy, who served time in prison and is looking to re-establish a relationship with a son he didn't know at first he had.

He's also solving the mystery of the disappearance of a teacher he knew in high school as well as trying to decode messages left by an author of children's books; these messages are rumoured to lead to a hidden treasure!

This delightful mystery is full of codes and puzzles. It's hilarious in some places and heart-warming in many others. It's also about great friendship and loyalty, and that seems to be the biggest draw for me these days. Not to mention the completely unexpected twist after twist after twist that Hallett delights us with in the last several pages!

By this time next month, we'd be in the thick of summer here in the northern hemisphere and I'd have a newly-7-year-old at home! Little D will turn 7 exactly a day before the summer solstice this year. I'm so excited that I have a birthday party to plan for and host!

At times like these, all my existential questions fade into the background and life is then nothing more, nothing less than one moment woven into the next and into the next and so on.

Time is a-flying, and I wish to make the most of this summer with the little one. Which is why I'm mulling paring down the Monthly Missives over the summer.

I haven't completely decided yet, but if I do, the Monthly Missives will still turn up in your inbox on the last Sunday of the month with a 'brief' hello and any book/writing updates, as well as the Tales for Dreamers and Books You May Love sections. I'll go back to writing my feature-length reflections on life in September after school resumes.

I've been blogging over on the website offlate and I'll continue to do so, so you can always come over to read and share your thoughts too.

So, what are your plans and hopes for the summer, dear Dreamer? Write to me and share your heart with me.

I wish for this season to bring you much warmth and sunshine, optimism and joy, and also a sense of freedom and possibility.

Much love,