Trips to New York and Los Angeles in the same week. A horrid cold from the weird pollen in LA, making me cough like I’ve spent the last twenty years downing whiskey shots with hits from a cigar. In bed for days, then back to work where I was bombarded with everything I’d missed during my travels and hack fest.
Then over the weekend, a writer’s conference I barely got through without collapsing. All this to say, I didn’t get a chance to write this week’s blog.
What I will share with you is Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and Choke. If you’ve never read any of his books, get your backside to a bookstore or library. And if you’re ever in need of inspiration, go hear the man speak. Funny, considering his most successful book is about psychotic freaks beating the molasses out of each other. But Chuck, the keynote speaker at this weekend’s conference, got a standing ovation at the end of his speech. There were tears in the eyes of all the women seated at my table.
“Everybody figures out a way to get people to like them,” said the surprisingly wholesome writer (though I’m paraphrasing here). “It starts from childhood; ‘I’ll be the smart kid,’ you decide, ‘the funny kid.’ But then you get to the second act of your life and the act starts to break down or it doesn’t work for you anymore. The stories I write are about the moment when the character abandons the inauthenticity and chooses the way they’re going to be. Chooses their authentic self.”
I can’t get into it now. My head is full of pollen and throat is crackling with allergy. But I can tell you I’ve been walking a long, hard road toward authenticity in the last few years. Certainly, I went to Europe to find my unencumbered, truest self. Since my return, I’ve struggled to find a home, literally and figuratively, for this new me.
I’m not alone. Lots of folks I know right now are asking themselves whether the person they’ve been up to now is real. They’re chucking jobs, relationships, goals, moving to other cities, to live with more authenticity. The topsy turvy, volcanic ash and earthquake-ridden, economic disaster of a planet we’re living on makes this journey even more vital. It’s as fantastic as it is terrifying.
Maybe this is why an entire audience stood and women wept when the Fight Club mastermind reminded us life isn’t only about struggle, “it’s a conspiracy to make you enjoy every moment of happiness.” For this, we were all grateful.
Wow, I guess I did write a blog. Thanks again, Chuck.