The Power of Aspirations

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about aspirations, or, what I consider to be a mindset that involves a balance between goal-setting and honest intentions. An aspiration is practical and attainable, but sometimes also outside the sphere of anything we’ve previously imagined for ourselves. As Memorial Day 2013 (book launch day) grows near, I’m facing some surprising realizations about my own attitudes toward the writing life.

For instance, while I believe I’ll be able to look back and say that I did everything within my power to help Flashes of War make its mark, I’m similarly inclined to believe that I won’t necessarily ever “make it big” as a writer. I always tell people I want to be respected and known, but not necessarily famous. Or that I’m fine making “enough” money, but I rarely confess that I would have plenty of things to do if I suddenly found myself with “more than enough,” for once. It’s an odd psychology, and while I consider myself pretty confident, I also have to admit that part of me is afraid to dream of huge success because it feels so far out of my hands.

But it isn’t. Or doesn’t have to be. There is so much power in aspiring for something…so many unseen and immeasurable forces at hand in the Universe. Call it higher power, call it auspiciousness, call it coincidence, call it karma. Whatever you call it, I do believe that our thoughts directly impact our future. Recently, I stumbled across an old blog post of mine from July 7th, 2009. This was written just a few months before I’d put my life on the road for three years, though I had no idea at the time what was in store for me. Here is what I wrote from the epic house up on Roan Mountain:

Some days, I dream of a bus. On this bus are my favorite books, a Mac Airbook with uninterrupted Internet access, and a handful of my best writing buddies. We also have Encyclopedias, an array of field guides, and fantastic cameras. The bus is equipped with go-go-Gadget inflatable tires (for crossing large bodies of water) and has a biodiesel jetpack for whizzing past traffic jams. It also has multiple built-in espresso machines and French presses, with a lifelong supply of Coffee People Coffee’s Huehuetenago Guatemalan medium roast beans. On this bus there are occasional visits from Bob Dylan, Andrew Bird, Eddie Vedder, Sonic Youth, Stephen Malkmus, and Josh Ritter. Scratch that—Josh Ritter often spends the night on the bus.


Other days, I dream of the city. It’s a big city but I live high, high up. I have a quiet place to write even though the world below is very loud and busy all of the time. I am not quite as tormented as Joan Didion and certainly not as unfortunate, but I am almost as respected. I am no longer hypersensitive to sound. I have a husband who comes home and everything is very domestic but it doesn’t smell like plastic and it doesn’t make me feel numb. We laugh about the fact that I used to pee in a bucket and live on a mountain by myself, half a mile from my nearest neighbor (a hound dog named Little Sam, no less).

Long-time followers of The Writing Life Blog know that I didn’t exactly get a cool bus to ride in…but I did get a Volvo station wagon named THE CLAW that crossed the country three times and took me to all sorts of epic places, including to the homes and schools of many-a-writing friend. And I didn’t get Josh Ritter to spend the night, but I did see him a few times in concert (and Andrew Bird). And of course, now, I live in a 1970 Airstream. Not a superbus, but perhaps even better.

Regarding that second paragraph, the husband still doesn’t exist but I do have a sweetheart and while we’re both still pretty darn granola-crunchy, we can also dress up for a good night out and appear rather “domestic.” As for plastic, interestingly enough, I made a New Year’s Resolution to go an entire year without accepting a single plastic bag at checkout, anywhere, at any time. And I’m not tortured like Joan Didion, but I certainly lose my fair share of sleep over anxieties large and small as part of entering what I lovingly refer to as First Book Land. Whether or not I attain such respect remains to be seen, but what’s the harm in aspiring for it?

No harm. Clearly, no harm at all.

Showing 4 comments
  • Wesley Middleton

    Love this. Glorious. Timely. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Beatufil. Aspiration leads to inspiration but takes lots of perspiration, all of which you have. In the lingo of my days, "Keep on Truckin'"

  • Unknown


    Another dose of inspiration. Thank you.

  • Jenn

    Just what I needed to read on the dark, rainy day!

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