Tag Archives: questions

Rites of Vision

Where are you going? And how will you know when you are on your way?

Note: We have been exploring twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD and other past stress. August contemplates Vision.

When my oldest daughter was very young, perhaps three or four, she asked her mother and me, “What do you want me to be when I grow up?” To our credit I believe, we both answered, “Happy.”

Children want to know. Adolescents need to know. We all search for our fit in this world and Vision is the answer.

Several years ago I was sitting in a quiet spot outside a family party talking with a young relative, probably about six years of age. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He looked at me with an expression of serious thought. “I don’t know. Something easy. Maybe I’ll drive a dump truck. How hard could that be?”

He is not yet of age to drive a dump truck on the highway, but he does like driving farm equipment. But, he also likes playing music. Very soon, however, he will be making decisions, choices of forks in his road, that will take him in some direction. Who will guide him?

Most indigenous cultures practice some form of adolescent rite of passage into adulthood that involves introspective searching for one’s place in culture. The concept is quite foreign to America–to European descendants. Pity.

The Native American rite is the “Little Death” known as the Vision Quest. Unfortunately, I didn’t do my first Vision Quest until I was already middle-aged, a teacher, and in graduate school. Still, it guided my research and teaching.

But back to my adolescence, I did search for answers to questions unspoken. I did look to my future to see what my life may become. In my early teens I decided that making money was not important to me, that I only wanted to be modestly comfortable. In my late teens, I committed my life to learning how the universe works. Everything else that has happened in my life has been a walk within those two decisions made before I graduated high school.

Scary? Well, the frightening aspect is that I made those choices with little to no adult guidance. Oh, sure, I was influenced by attitudes and enticements of home and school, but I discussed little of my future with adults.

Is that how you made life-determining choices? Is that how your children and grandchildren decide their futures?

Around 1978, I read a Reader’s Digest condensed book called THE TRACKER about Tom Brown, Jr. I went out and bought a copy to read the whole version. I talked about the book with anybody who would listen. Nancy listened. When she found another book authored by Tom, she gave it to me for Christmas in 1989. That book was THE VISION. If you have any interest in understanding the concept of developing a vision for your future as a part of our culture, I highly recommend reading it, discussing it, and rereading it.

I believe I was lucky. I grew up in a kind and hard-working family. I grew up running the fields and forests, encouraged to become who I would choose to be, to make my own choices, to live my own life. I grew up sharing and caring. I chose my Vision with mostly unselfish motives.

Deep down inside you, in that joyous and free pre-trauma self, what are your unselfish motives?

It’s a big question, but if it is an important one for you, there are methods of finding your way. Those methods will be our topics for the rest of this month.

Happy Tracking!

Do you feel naked?

I clicked the keyboard and my formatted novel was sent to print. The feeling was rather unpleasant and difficult to describe. In anticipation of weird feelings, I had waited until Nancy came home from work before sending it, and I am glad I did. I was a twit.

One of the comments I made to her was that I wondered why I was doing this. I should be going fishing or hiking. This meant I would have to work hard (maybe even on Saturdays) not only rewriting the sequel, but on marketing, publicity, and personal appearances for this one. I had just made another commitment of time, the stuff of which my life is made, rather than retiring. Maybe that explained my agitation and trepidation—okay, anxiety.

Nah.

It is my good fortune to have access to VA services right here in Yuma, and one of these is PTSD counseling. Fortunately, I already had a personal session scheduled. When I reported that I had sent the novel, his first question was, “Do you feel naked?”

Yes.

Not only is he a psychologist, but he is a published author, and he knows the feeling.

Have you had any naked dreams? You know, the kind where you find yourself inexplicably and unintentionally in the altogether surrounded by friends and/or strangers? I can’t be the only person to have such dreams. Well, that’s the feeling.

There is a personal vulnerability to revealing your art to the critical world. It will be judged. It will be found imperfect. It will be rejected by some. It will contain blemishes and blunders that are embarrassing. It might even be acclaimed, an even scarier possibility.

It’s not unlike walking onto a wrestling mat. Or standing in front of a classroom. Or becoming a parent. It’s always difficult, but in the beginning, before there is any indication of probable success, it is almost paralyzing. Without Nancy and my girls, my writing group (Write on the Edge), Dr. Hart, and friends on Facebook,  I’m pretty sure I never would have taken that step. (Well at least I know who to blame–thank, I mean thank.)

This evokes another question: Why write?

My intention with this blog, which I plan to post on Wednesdays under the category of Journey for Authority, is to explore such questions. Friends and advisors have asked me to write a blog on writing. Be careful what you ask for.

I am asking for your questions about writing. Please post them on the blog as comments. Please also share links and other resources for writers of all kinds—serious authors, closet writers, those in denial.

“Why write?” will have to wait. Next week I want to explore a question from a relatively new member of Write on the Edge, “When you write, what do you think about?”