There is an ancient fable from Terma in which Padmasambhava, a literary character, appears before a Terton and teaches him how to better focus his emotions. Padmasambhava says that when a stick is thrown to a dog, the dog will chase the stick. Yet when you throw a stick to a lion, the lion chases you. A dog’s gaze will always follow the object: the stick. The lion gazes steadily at the source: the thrower.
Yep, that’s right. After a brief absence from this site I’ve returned to drop some obscure philosophy served with a side of self-indulgence on you that’s sure to leave you scratching your head wondering why the hell you’re even reading it.
But hear me out. Open your mind and be prepared to look beyond the stick and instead focus on what is really important: the thrower, and why they tossed it in the first place.
The stick is a distraction; a frivolous entity designed to draw your attention away from your heart’s true desire. Yet so many of us chase the damn thing every fucking time that it’s thrown, diligently returning it to its owner, only for them to hurl it in a different direction. So many of us are as loyal as a hound, and that loyalty ultimately becomes our undoing. We play according to the rules of men and women distracting us with a petty game of fetch, when all we really want is for them to treat us as equals or allow us the opportunity to blossom.
A lot of people have been commenting on how quickly this site has grown over the past few months. Your writing has improved! Your followers have exploded! You seem so much happier in your work! All of which are true. I’ve put in a lot of hard work into what I am producing and amassed numerous sleepless nights as I’ve toiled away at my writing. It hasn’t been easy, and at times I’ve wondered why I chose to enter such a fickle industry. Yet when people ask me what inspired the metamorphosis between the boy I was eighteen months ago and the man I am today, I’ve struggled to answer.
I’ve learned to silence my ego. I say. I’ve let go of my hate.
I haven’t though. I’m still the perpetually frustrated mind I was back when I was producing endless streams of whiney bullshit to a lackluster audience. And I’m still arrogant as sin. I don’t understand humanity, and I struggle to tolerate much of popular culture. Yet I have grown. And I have improved. But I’ve never really understood what changed inside of me that allowed me to become someone with a published novel and a chance to actually carve my name in the walls of the literary industry.
Until I learned about the lion’s gaze.
When I first told myself that I was going to become a writer I did what most people do. I dove headfirst into an industry that I didn’t really understand and started fetching sticks, wrestling them from the mouths of other like-minded authors and presenting them to literary masters. Get and editor they’d say. So I did. Tone down the violence. I obeyed. Jump through this hoop. Sit. Roll over. Play dead. I’d bow down at their feet and do anything that I could just to capture the attention of the industry. But the industry itself was merely throwing sticks into a field to keep me occupied.
The problem with trying to earn the respect of someone or something in this manner is sooner or later they are chucking more sticks then you can ever hope to fetch. You become confused, unsure what direction you should follow, or what branches are worth retrieving. Soon that confusion festers and becomes anger. You’re tired. You’re bitter. You dream of success and of lashing out to bite the hand that feeds. You become so caught up in playing games of fetch that you just end up chasing your tail around in circles.
But you don’t have to hunt distractions. It took me a long time to learn this but it’s ultimately true. The difference between the shitty little blog that I ran eighteen months ago and Renegade Press is that I learned to ignore disruption and interference, stop chasing sticks and do what I want to do: write fucking entertaining posts that capture the imagination of my readership. I’ve let go of comparing myself to the works of others, I’ve turned my back on purposely trying to cultivate ‘confronting’ pieces, and I’ve allowed my work the opportunity to be judged based solely on its merit.
It’s been a sharp learning curve, and at times when I’ve felt my confidence falter it has taken all my strength not to start playing fetch and conforming to the whims of others once again. To help me through I created foundations of strength through my wolf and world eater monikers, but never once have I taken my eyes off of my ultimate goal: to write damn good literature.
When you understand what your heart truly desires you have to learn how to develop a lion’s gaze. You have to teach yourself to ignore the distractions that life throws at you and never allow yourself to lose sight of your dream. You may dream of being a writer like me. You may aspire to be a parent, or a lover, an artist, lawyer, doctor, or poet. The dream itself can be anything. But that fire, and that intestinal fortitude to never lose focus even when times get tough is what ultimately allows us to grow and achieve.
When Padmasambhava, appeared before the Terton he taught him that the slightest shift in perspective can change the world. When I stopped focusing on chasing down frivolous exploits or competing with others and focused instead becoming a better writer, I altered the course of my life and found success.
Now it’s your turn. Take a moment and ask yourself if you were to shift your perspectives away from the unimportant and block out all distraction, where would your lion’s gaze be focused?
What could you achieve?
Why the hell are you still chasing sticks?