ALCHEMY OF WORDS
ALCHEMY OF WORDS
photo credit: Mellissae Lucia
Life almost never looks like we imagine, like we want, like we think is ideal. Do you wonder why that is? Probably. But our mental narratives are so strong we continue to believe in our mind-made agendas, our imagined scenarios, our false sense of omniscience.
The last month has been surreal for me. Coming on the heels of a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic that effectively shut down life as we know it for over a year, that is definitely saying something.
After being self-employed for over two decades, less than two weeks ago I went to work full time for the State of Nevada. Let me explain. I graduated from law school in December of 1994. I moved to Reno in February of 1995. I shopped around my writing portfolio and tried pretty hard not to practice law for six or seven years. But since I was mostly doing research and writing for other lawyers during that time, in 2003, I decided to take the Nevada Bar Exam.
But you need to understand why I took the test. It wasn’t just to make more money (though that definitely was a goal). It was because I wanted to finish writing my first novel. The overarching why here, is that I wanted to be a full-time writer.
I know that makes no sense on its face, so I’ll explain. I’d been working on a novel, but was definitely nowhere near finished. And I’d graduated from law school before that, but hadn’t closed the loop and passed the bar. So in the twisted, but well-meaning logic of my mind, I thought if I took the bar, and closed that loop, it would help me to then finish my novel.
And so I did. Took the bar exam, that is. And passed. And then I wrote, rewrote, finished, and published my first novel. But unlike my grandiose notions of how life was supposed to go, I did not find fame and financial independence from that first novel. I’m sure no other writer has had this experience.
photo credit: Thomas Lloyd Qualls
Since that time, I’ve been involved with any number of creative projects. I was part owner of a music festival, created and put on a series of live storytelling events, wrote a monthly essay for a local magazine (Reno Tahoe Tonight), worked with a team to develop a TV show (which ultimately did not get off the ground), and wrote a second novel. The second novel found a small traditional publisher, won 8 literary awards, and moved me up a notch in the literary author realm. But so far, it also has not brought financial independence to match the awards.
I am working on a third novel. I have a collection of essays coming out in August of this year. And I have been working on two different podcasts over the last two years.
In the meantime, I’ve still been practicing law. Because, let’s be honest, that is what pays the mortgage and the health insurance, and most everything else.
But I’ve been playing this game for about 25 years. The one where I have a foot in the law world, and one in the artist world. And my legs are pretty tired.
Also, this thing happened in December. For those of you more attuned to subtle energies, I’m told the world moved fully into the Age of Aquarius on December 20, 2020. Whatever happened, it shook loose some things in my world.
And since then, I’ve had this heightened sense of awareness. Along with the undeniable feeling that it was time for a big change. That the life I’d carefully curated, the beautiful office in Midtown, with the plant-filled, water-featured atrium, the local art on the walls, and the flip-flops I wore to work to write appeals on the handmade desk near my own personal espresso machine, that was coming to its natural end. One way or another.
photo credit: Lynell Garfield
Aligned with this phenomenon, the Universe also sent a job notice to me. And feeling the tug of that unmeasurable force, I applied for said job. In short order, I was granted an interview, and within 24 hours I was offered the job.
I accepted, because that was my deal with the Universe. If they offered, I would accept. No questions asked.
The result was that I had three weeks to close down my law practice and vacate the beautiful, non-lawyer-like office I’d occupied for almost 11 years. None of the above were easy. I’d hoped that I had bought myself a few days of down-time between realms of existence, but reality was – again – different than I’d imagined.
The good news is I do not have to litigate any more in my new gig. Put another way, I do not argue for a living anymore. The perhaps not-so-good news is that I have no time or opportunity to write, podcast, or do anything else in the personal creative realm during my work week. I barely have time to eat most days.
Why did I do this, you might ask. I’ll tell you why: I was stuck in an eddy. For over two decades. Practicing law, while trying to build a sustainable creative life. And somewhere inside, a voice told me that I had to get off the boat I was on. Had to.
I want to be clear that what I’ve done is not the same thing as giving up. It is a surrender. It is a spiritual leap of faith. The universe told me quite clearly that this was a bridge I needed to walk across. And that I’d be unable to carry almost anything with me.
Or as Rumi said, “You start to walk on the way, and the way appears.”
This is my journey at this moment in our human history. This is part of why I am here. To let go of everything. And to walk into the unknown. Not having any clear idea of why. Just knowing that I must.
That is where I am. And in case I’ve been unclear, or you somehow think me some kind of superman, let me say that almost every day since I made the decision I have experienced waves of grief, self-doubt, even panic.
But I’m also building something brand new where I am. Something to help the underdogs and the down-trodden. The poor and the lost.
I am not sure why I am telling you all of this. Except that there must be some of you out there who are walking paths as maddeningly crooked as my own. And I want you to not lose faith.
As Shawn Colvin says, “I don’t know where / But there will be a place for you.” And so I invite you, if you feel lost, take Rumi’s advice, and “keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.”
To be continued…