Not too long ago, I had a conversation with the one person I can count on to second guess me...myself. The conversation was predictably convoluted and I have confess I don't remember all of it, but it went something like this.
ME: I'm starting a blog.
Myself: Really? Do tell...
ME: I'm going to start building my platform.
MYSELF: Your what form?
ME: Platform! My platform.
MYSELF: What are you running for office? I suppose you want my vote...
ME: No! My author's platform. Author's have to have a platform to connect with their readers.
MYSELF: (a long pause) Have a lot of those, do you?
ME: I'm working on it...
MYSELF: Good luck with that. (another pause) What's for dinner?
As this internal soliloquy suggests, I’m been coping periodically with a noxious brew of pride in a story I firmly believe to be at once timely and timeless and the self-effacing doubt regarding both its artistic merit and relevance. If you’ve ever written anything for publication, you know what I mean.
But it is in that very doubt that both the novel West of Tomorrow and its relevance lies. Anyone paying attention over the last few years can relate, both at the personal and macro-social level. How can we not wonder collectively what has happened to us? Not simply here in the United States, but everywhere, there is a clear sensing by many that we’ve drifted off course. If recent opinion surveys are to be believed, a more fundamental question lurks below the surface: “Will we ever individually or collectively recover and if so, when?”
Those who know me well, also know I believe we are in the midst of multiple paradigm shifts. There seem to have been independently started, but taken together, seem to reinforce each other. I’m hardly the first to make this observation. But with the general distaste today for the study of history, what seems to be missing is a sense of context.
I believe we are in the midst of the most profound social change since the Industrial Revolution, in which many if not most of the frames of reference on which we have relied to make sense of things are becoming less reliable on their way to irrelevant. If true, some measure of angst is understandable, if not inevitable. It is not simply disorienting for all of us. It is transformational.
Which takes us back to the true significance of the brief snippet with which I opened this post. The fundamental conflict underpinning this post is between the powerful and power-less selves lying in all of us. Our putative sanity asks “Why?” Our dreamer inner self asks, “Why not?” Both are questions we need to ask and answer. And is not the path to our higher and better selves… individually and collectively signposted by the second question, well answered?
Why focuses on the past…on what’s still looming in our rear view mirror. The why question must be asked because it provides perspective. But because what’s behind us is also familiar, we have a tendency to long for the familiar and predictable past. This longing can often lead us to embrace familiar but no longer effective solutions to problems or conditions that have grown larger than the knee-jerk answers of yesterday.
Why not, conversely, looks out through our windshield, at where we’re going. It focuses on paths ahead of us, paths not previously taken. Focusing on what’s ahead is the catalyst of visions, possibilities and our enabling optimism. Which leads me to ask, “What is your Why not?” If you know, press on.
If you don’t, is your own (as yet) unwritten story not in front of you? Where might it take you? Who might it attract for partners in your journey? Can you hear your highest best self calling? The phoenix lives in all of us. When will you awaken him/her? And while you’re reflecting, please consider signing up for my updates, below. Your email will not be shared…ever without your permission.
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Dirk is the author of West of Tomorrow, now available on Amazon in both Kindle and Print. He is currently working on an anthology of shorter fiction, entitled, Through the Windshield, Drive-by Encounters with Truth and a new adult novella, Best Case Scenario, both to be published in the fall of 2017.