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January and February in New York, as many people already know, can be tough.
What was fortunate for me this year was that I signed a book deal in December, and it required me to write the entire 50,000-word manuscript over those two months.
For the first time in my recent memory, I did not have to contend with the general malaise that I usually struggle with during the winter. I was just too busy. Writing, researching, sending chapters to editors, reworking them—I felt alive. As my deadline of March 1st approached, even blogging was off the table. I was just too laser focused on my goal.
Sometime during the last week of February, when it became apparent to me that as long as nothing drastic happened, I’d have a finished manuscript on time, I decided to join a couple of dating sites again. I reasoned it out at work one day: I thought about how many agents turned me down before I met one who truly believed in me, I thought about how many publishers passed on my book once I had representation.
It became clear to me that day at work that if I wanted anything good in this life, I’d have to proceed with the same kind of tenacity I reserved for getting my book deal—move from rejection to rejection until it finally worked out. It’s the most basic tenet of self-improvement and has been employed since the days of Napoleon Hill and Zig Ziglar.
On the dates I went on, I found that some women were not into guys who were 5’6”. Some women could not date a guy with a blue-collar job. Some women didn’t want to date a guy with kids. Some women didn’t want a guy who was too busy. Some women didn’t want to be with a guy in recovery. Some women didn’t want to date someone who didn’t drink. I’m sure there were even more objections waiting for me, but I deleted my profile and just gave up.
It seemed sort of ironic, too. I just finished an entire book trying to help people get control over their emotions, espousing the advantages of never giving up and keeping a positive attitude, and here I was asking the universe why it was doing this to me. That is, until it finally dawned on me recently that perhaps the universe wasn’t doing anything to me—maybe it was doing something for me.
I’m currently paying child support to two very beautiful women, so it is not as if romance has managed to elude me all my life, but let’s face it: I have never been the type to turn heads when I walk in a room, so it has always required quite a bit of effort.
I have written poetry, recorded songs, fought dragons—whatever it took when the motivation was there. And therein lies the point: the motivation has just not been there.
Yes, I would love to be in love right now, but all of my energies are being diverted toward something more useful—or at least, more useful to someone other than myself. I believe that we all have a calling—a need to fulfill while we are here on the planet—and I am now being asked to do my part. This is not time for romantic love and leisure, it is time to be of service. It is time to gather all of my hard-won experience; the experience of sailing to the bottom of the barrel and fighting my way back up and using it to help others in some way.
Of course, many people might argue that these things are not mutually exclusive—it is entirely possible to help others and have a satisfying love life along the way. I don’t disagree. For some people, I am sure this is the case. For myself, however, I tend to use my energies too freely. When I fall in love, I give it everything I have and everything else seems to get minimal attention. It is entirely possible that this is not what the universe needs from me right now.
Even more than this, however, is the reality of what I need from the universe. Although my biological needs and longing for instant gratification may be getting summarily dismissed at this juncture, it’d probably be myopic to continue walking around feeling resentful.
As I come to my final days, I will have the opportunity to know that my life was not one long and endless study in samsara and self-serving conquest. I will be able to inventory my years and know that I showed up as a parent and I was also able to help those who struggle with alcoholism, addiction, and poverty with a book that I defied all odds to get published.
That is no small thing.
There’s no doubt that it can be daunting to be alone and to suffer in what can best be described as a dating slump, but this is what the universe is doing for me right now. Whether it is to serve a higher purpose, to give me the space to grow and not continue finding myself in destructive relationships, or a combination of those things doesn’t truly matter.
What matters is that apparently this is what the fates have conspired to bless me with, and it would be foolhardy for me to see it as anything less than that: a blessing.