Sometimes we writers struggle to find things to write about.
Sometimes we sit, an uncompromisingly blank piece of paper in front of us, twirling the Montblanc or the Mirado Black Warrior #2, waiting for the Muse to arrive with the coffee and wisdom that only she can bring. Sometimes she comes, right on time. Sometimes she makes us wait. Sometimes she stands us up.
Today, she came straight at me, holding out a bright orange Jittery Joe’s large Crackacino with three Equals, dark, strong, and good. She made no bones about what I was to write today.
I want to talk to you about clarity.
To be clear, I want to talk to you about three aspects of clarity.
The first is clarity of thought.
We live in a world of too many choices, too many stimuli, too many rules, too many loopholes. We are confronted with ambiguity at every turn. We could do this, or we could do that. We could believe this, or not. We could value this, or not.
We watch screens, three inch, five inch, seven inch, eleven inch, thirteen inch, fifteen inch, seventeen inch, twenty-one inch, twenty-seven inch, God, up to six feet across. They tell us what to think, how to dress, what to buy, how to eat, what to read, and what is popular. They tell us who is rich, who is poor, who is beautiful, who is ugly, who is smart and who is powerful.
We are bombarded with cues, clues, and mandates. We are told what to do and how to process. The result is, of course, that we are nothing more than confused. Horribly confused. Awash in what ifs and how tos and maybes and somedays and if onlys.
We have forgotten how to think.
We all need to sit with ourselves, just with ourselves, and think. We need to be clear and honest with ourselves about what we think. Why we think the way we do. What we believe to be true and why. We need to do this today more than we ever have before.
The second is clarity of action.
Any good practitioner of cognitive behavioral therapy knows that one may not change actions before one changes thoughts. Clear thoughts lead to clear actions.
Be honest with yourself today. Why do you do what you do?
Is it to feel good? Is it to impress someone? Is it to provide for your family? Is to achieve fame or notoriety? Is it to become rich? Is it to manipulate someone else, or to make them suffer? Is it to become more in touch with yourself, your own emotions and feelings and aspirations?
My friends, I don’t care what you do. I would never offer advice about what you should do. It’s simply not my place to do that. The choice to take an action or not, to follow through on something or to let it go, to seize an opportunity or to let it slip by is completely up to you. To each of us. You must make that decision for yourself.
I would just ask that even as you try to think more clearly, that you also act out of a sense of clarity as well. Know what you are doing. Choose it, actively. Decide that it is the right thing, the right path, the right direction for you. Don’t let anyone or anything make that choice for you. Act from a position of strength.
The third is clarity of motive.
We all fool ourselves. We do it every day. We tell ourselves that we think this way and act that way because of our religious beliefs or our upbringing or our sense of responsibility to the greater good.
We know exactly why we do the things we do and what drives us. We are just too embarrassed or afraid to be honest with ourselves and own our own thoughts and actions. I see it every day in my professional work. Patients want me to validate and sanction and explain their thoughts and actions away.
A large part of my day to day work is helping people to see that they are not victims, they are not powerless and they are not doomed to the present state of affairs. They can change.
Why do you do what you do?
Why do you stay in a job that you hate? Why do you live with someone who abuses you? Why do you repeatedly make poor choices? Why do you drink or use drugs? Why do you see yourself as a victim? Why do you let others have so much control over your life? Why do you resist making the changes that will alter your life in profound ways, mind-blowing ways?
Let’s be clear.
Your thoughts are your own. Sit down and be honest about them. Hash them out. Explore them. Flesh them out. Let them expand. Own them.
Your actions are your own. You decide to do something. Or not. You make the choices, every day of your life. Own them.
Your motives are yours alone. You know exactly why you think and feel the way you do. You know exactly why you act the way you do. Are you brave enough to be honest with yourself and own that, too?
Clarity of thought.
Clarity of action.
Clarity of motive.
Think, do, and understand exactly why.
Your life will be much simpler and much richer for it.