I love history. I consider myself an amateur historian — that’s what the It Was 20 Years Ago Today podcast is all about. I listen to a few podcasts that have to do with history; one is the remarkable series A History of the World in 100 Objects, presently up to episode number 88. An episode from a few weeks back, Ming Banknote, gave me an insight into just how powerful belief can be.

Consider this: the entire economic system of the planet hinges on a single shared belief: that certain pieces of paper (or nowadays combinations of electrons in a data stream or dots on a liquid crystal screen) have value. That belief is shared by virtually everyone on Earth. And from that belief flows all the economic activity in our world. When parts of that belief start to falter — for instance, when it was decided that the pieces of paper called “credit default swaps” and “collateralized debt obligations” didn’t have value any more, the repercussions were dire indeed, stretching around the world and far beyond the sorcerer’s caves on Wall Street and the City of London.

Years ago a counselor tried to illustrate for me the necessity of looking at my beliefs about myself, and how simple it could be to challenge some of them. “Look at yourself in the mirror. You don’t look like a tuba, do you? You wouldn’t say you were a tuba. Why not? Because you can show yourself evidence. Do you have any evidence that says you are worthless and no good for anybody? No. So why should you believe that, any more than you should believe you’re a tuba? Remember: you are not a tuba.”

I am not a tuba.

The image has remained, even if I’ve forgotten the lesson now and again. Enough so that when I’m really in a dysfunctional place, Joe will tell me, “You are not a tuba.”

I am not a tuba.

But I am a writer. I have things to say and stories to tell. But I haven’t been telling them. Not very much, anyway. I haven’t been fighting to get those stories told. I’ve dropped hints at the scale and scope of what’s up in my head, but for all anyone else can tell, that’s been enough for me. To have it in my head or on the shelf. I have to do better than that.

So what’s stopping me? I’ve overloaded my life, it seems, with things that ultimately matter less but still have taken up time that might have been spent getting the stories out. Some, like the jewelry crafting, are also efforts at self-expression; all the craft fairs and Christmas bazaars have been an effort to justify that self-expression through money. “It must be worth the time if I’m making money, right?”

Other things are more prosaic — the daily round of chores, caring for the cats, caring for myself and Joe. And then there’s the Facebook games … which, even though I’ve cut back pretty drastically on them, have become a really enormous time sink.

My life and my purpose are all out of whack.

It’s time to begin putting things back in order.

Beliefs and Beginnings
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