Birthrite – How To Change Your World, One Day at a Time


image by photokat
When we were little, we thought we were awesome. “I can do ANYTHING,” we’d say, drawing pictures of ourselves as astronauts or superheros or firefighters. We’d color over the lines and tell our parents “I AM GOING TO BE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST,” and they would either roll their eyes remembering the long line of things we said we were going to be yesterday, or encouraged us and got us books on dinosaurs from the library and helped us build a colossal tyrannosaurus rex out of ridiculously goopy paper mache. Maybe we had teachers that told us our art was beautiful or bullies who told us we’d amount to nothing. As we grew, we were shaped by our peers, by what we heard and saw on the television, the radio. We became the person we are today through equal measures of our own force and the force of others, and we either grew up to be whatever it was we knew we were meant to be…
Or, you know, we didn’t.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi being Gandhi, there’s so much we can take away from that phrase that’s almost become a cliche. It’s on every bumper or chest, emblazoned on stickers and t-shirts and buttons and pencils. Our eyes glaze over when we read it now, because we’ve read it so often. “Blah, blah, we gotta change the world.”
I’m all for changing the world, and I’m one of those ridiculously optimistic people who think it’s possible. I don’t live as an out lesbian for my health (it is my awesome hope that the more out GLBT people other people see, the more we’ll become recognized as “not a big, scary thing,” and then, eventually and happily, we’ll get all those rights we’re being denied. But that’s another story.). This post isn’t about changing the world at large. Gandhi meant a few things when he said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world,” but the one that’s kind of glossed over on all those bumper stickers is the fact that you, yourself, must be the change you wish to see in YOUR world. Yours. The life you’re living. The only one you’ve got.
Once upon a time, you wanted to be an artist. But then “real life” got in the way. A peer said maybe your art wasn’t that great (though everyone else loved it). It was pounded into your head through every single person telling you that artists can’t make a living on their art that the Starving Artist was something that not only you MIGHT become, but it was CERTAIN. You loved it so much, more than anything, really, and you had a few nights where you cried yourself to sleep because you decided to go to school for business, and by god you hated it with all your heart, but you were stuck. Weren’t you?
Maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. Maybe you just really wanted to be a rock climber, but your corporate life became too much, and you haven’t had time to hit the wall in months. But you’re building a career, and you’re swimming in money, and you’re not happy but eventually you’ll be happy–won’t you?
It’s a tad morbid, but it needs to be said: you have no idea how much time you have left. There’s this idea in our culture and generation that “someday,” we’ll have all the time in the world to do that one thing we love with all our hearts. But people die before they get to that someday, and whatever religion you are, and whatever you believe, I can only imagine that it really sucks to go on to whatever else is in your cosmic schedule with an incredibly unfulfilled and unlived life under your belt.
This realization creeps up on people. One minute, they’re totally okay working sixty hours a week at a job that they kind of hate, and then suddenly, they realize they’re thirty-five and they have done absolutely nothing in their lives that gives them any sense of joy or peace. They have done nothing that they thought they would do. They’ve done nothing to steer toward the direction of their dream, and they have never seen what life could be like when it’s fulfilled and happy.
That’s when people try to change their lives in a single day. “I will work out, and I’ll only eat legumes that were harvested on Tuesdays, and I will write THE BEST NOVEL IN THE WORLD in two days, and I will BUY A RACEHORSE and NAME HIM ODIN, and I will sew that dress I always wanted, and I will try couscous BY GOD.”
The problem with these successive build ups and resulting explosions of untapped potential is that they fizzle up and die. No one person can change their entire lives in a single day, and when human beings try, they realize they’re human, no one is perfect, and they can’t change the entire course of their lives in a span of twenty-four hours. So then they get depressed and give up and go back to eating fast food and watching late night TV because it’s a band aid, and–for a few moments in the day–they can numb themselves and forget their dreams.
And that is the saddest thing I can imagine.
No one is perfect. No one wants the same thing. No one lives their life so that it’s a fairy tale from sun up to sun down. And that’s okay. And that’s beautiful. But if you wake up in the morning and you dread your day, and you cry into your Cheerios because if you had done this ONE THING in college, you’d be a best selling author right now, and would never have to worry about money again…
You’re probably doing it wrong.
One of my best friends, Rachel, taught me something invaluable. She said: “every day is a new day. Every day, you try. And if you fuck up, you have tomorrow, and you can try again tomorrow.” She was referencing veganism, but it’s applicable for everything in life.
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. All my life, I knew I was supposed to be a writer. It was a dream, it was my direction and calling and north star, all rolled into one. And I still had a four year’s stint of writer’s block. I could write non-fiction and short stories and children’s books, but my beloved novel writing eluded me. I couldn’t do it, and every day in that period was like a brand in my side. I felt powerless and helpless, and I knew that if I couldn’t break out of it, I would never do what I was meant to do.
Slowly, surely, I broke out of it, and I’m here, now, writing so much and so often, it’s my second life. My very first novel is being released in a month and a week, and I got here…from there.
One day at a time.
What’s your birthrite? What did you always believe was the one thing you were meant to do? The ten things you were meant to do? Every day, do you do one, small step toward that goal? If not, can you start? Can you try?
Be the change you wish to see in your world. If you want to be a best selling novelist, write every day. If you want to sell your paintings, paint every day. If you want to fall in love, go looking every day.
I so passionately believe that every single one of us can have a fulfilled, beautiful life, living and doing and being whatever it is we wished for. Through hard work, perseverance, tenacity, courage and coming back to the dream every single day, it’s possible. I am surrounded by people in my life who have broken out of the belief that a life must be lived mundanely, that dreams must exist only in your head. If this many incredible people can try, every single day, to build the life they have imagined, I know I’m not crazy (well, in that regard. ;D). I know it’s possible.
With this one, mad, glorious life, I’m going to write.
And you?

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About Sarah Diemer

I write about heroic, magical girls who love girls. I drink a lot of coffee. Follow me at http://twitter.com/sediemer or find out more about my work at http://sarahdiemerauthor.wordpress.com
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8 Responses to Birthrite – How To Change Your World, One Day at a Time

  1. J. Koyanagi says:

    Me too, love. Every day. Beautiful post!

    Like

  2. Ally says:

    This is exactly what I am doing RIGHT NOW. Everyday, I write. Every week, I attend classes that get me further towards my clergy position. Every day, I talk to/read things from people who inspire me- like YOU!

    Like

  3. Willow says:

    Beautiful post, Sarah. So inspiring! I am writing everyday, working towards my goal of being a writer (I’d say novelist but I truly love all forms of writing, so I just say writer). I didn’t always do this but, then I got a wake up call of sorts and was shown the kind of life I want is attainable even though I’m pretty far from “normal”, and I’ve been working towards what makes me truly happy ever since.

    Like

  4. Becky says:

    Funny you should post this! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I feel like a lot of times when we lose our dreams we sort of try to stifle other people’s dreams. Like, we’re not happy. We get jealous of other people who are doing what we wish we could do. So we go around and tell them, “No, you can’t do that. You can’t fall madly in love because love doesn’t last, you can’t be an artist because you’ll never make any money, you can’t get that tattoo because no one will hire you, you can’t blah blah blah.” It’s like an endless cycle – we put down others, and then they go around and put down others, and so on. So I think it’s even more destructive than just hurting yourself. And then we end up being an entire nation of sheep who work 60 hours a week and never do anything fun.

    I do a lot of things different from the norm and I’m often made fun of for it, particularly by the intelligent, upper-middle to upper class. They’ve “figured it out” and so they tend to be less tolerant of weirdness. They know best, so they’re quick to tell you what you’re doing wrong. It’s a little bit sad and disheartening, but I’m going to push on through. Thanks for this post!

    Like

  5. Sarah says:

    @J — ❤ ❤ ❤ Thank you so much!
    @Ally — You are awesome, and you are going to make it. And thank you~ ❤
    @Willow — Thanks so much! I'm so glad it makes you so happy–that's what makes it all worth it. 🙂
    @Becky — You're so awesome. Thank you so much for this! ❤

    Like

  6. Brittany (briarspell on LJ) says:

    Oh my gosh, what a beautiful beautiful post. I needed it so much right now, you have no idea. It made me tear up. Thank you so much, Sarah :). You are an inspiration!

    Like

  7. Sarah says:

    Thank you so, so much, Brittany–I’m so glad it touched you~ ❤

    Like

  8. Lena says:

    You inspire and you nurture change – so much love to you. ❤ (And, I now wish to eat Tuesday-harvested legumes. Just to say so.) 😀

    Like

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