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With Eyes Wide Open

I recently returned from my first vacation in two years (and my first vacation to Europe, ever). I am refreshed and feeling somewhat like a dog on a leash, not allowed to create while I was gone, which only served to permit that creative fire inside to become a raging inferno.

I saw things past and present, new and old. I stepped back in time, both the grander perspective of the world, and in my own personal journey. I revisited my first military home away from home and stepped through the halls of William Shakespeare’s birthplace. I stood atop castles. I walked through dungeons and retraced the steps (or supposed steps) of serial killer, Jack the Ripper. I walked through great halls, where hundreds of years movers and shakers of the ancient world plotted and politicked.

This experience inspired me beyond words and gave me so much base material to create from that I now have even more stories that I’ll never be able to finish before I put down the pen for the last time.

It also gave me a lot of reflection time. I thought a lot about the creative process and the creations themselves that I put out into the world. I thought about the good, the bad, and the ugly, of writing stories for public consumption. I even questioned how much energy I have put into this endeavor, this pursuit of becoming a published author.

Maybe I have the privilege of now being able to call myself a published author. But stepping away from everything for two weeks was a clarifying experience, a grounding, if you will. The disruption of my routine helped me to see a number of things that had gone unnoticed for far too long.

Not only can we never go back, but we shouldn’t always be looking forward.

It’s more important to live in the moment than living for the moment (one that may never come).

Those are things I’ve lost over the past two years as I worked harder and harder, constantly sacrificing (probably more than I should) in order to become published.

It reminded me of those things that are the truly important things in life, even when I already thought I knew what they were.

I’m definitely glad to be home, encased in the comfort of familiarity. But I come home a changed person, someone chasing the elusive ghost that is simplicity and satisfaction. I thought about this throughout the vacation (and even during that ridiculously, and one would argue, unnecessarily) long journey home. I’ve always been a simple person, not needing material goods to validate my existence. But spending two weeks in Europe helped me to see something had been missing until I lived it (damn this visual and kinesthetic learning model I seem to be chained to).

There’s so much more simplifying I can do.

And will do.

At the moment I don’t know how this will manifest itself in my creative process. There’s a number of books needing to be worked on. There’s an entire season of Subject: Found that needs to begin its own editing phase. There’s an outline for the follow-up to Who Killed Julie that needs to be detailed. None of these things are any different than they were two weeks ago, at least everywhere except within my own mind. It’s funny, isn’t it? The way the world remains the same, yet a simple flipping of the paradigm helps you interact with it on a much more peaceful level? How stepping away from the distractions and stimulations of routine can help you become a more productive and fulfilled individual?

Now, of course, the key for me is to look for these opportunities to refresh and reconnect in my daily routine and life. One needn’t go all the way to Europe to find the simple reminders that life places at our feet. They’re all around us.

I just need to keep my eye open for them.

Originally Posted July 2018

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