There’s an adage floating around:  you can never be too thin, too rich, or too beautiful.  There may indeed be some truth to it, but it doesn’t seem to accurately reflect the world around us.  What about the idea that you can never be too interesting, too witty, too focused on your goals?

Augusten Burroughs new book, “This Is How, Help for the Self,” debates the issue of what it means to be thin.  In his chapter titled, “How To Be Thin,” he states, “For some, the desire to be thin actually is a desire for a more slender body. . .For other people, getting thin is less a desire than a way of life. . .Where the number on the scale each morning is more accurate at predicting whether it will be a good day or a bad one than any horoscope could ever be. . .For these people, thin isn’t really about being slender.”

These people have unrealistic goals and never really achieve what they aim to do, and so are constantly dissatisfied with who they are.  Be where you’re at; focus on the moment at hand, seems good advice.  Begin to like yourself for your sparkling personality whether you’re five or one hundred lbs overweight.  We’ve all seen people poolside who parade in front of everyone else showing us that sheer confidence is attractive.  Confidence draws people in, and makes them want to get to know you.

It’s also good to be centered, balanced, and have realistic goals.  I myself originally wanted to be a dancer, then shifted to wanting to be an actor.  The problem laid in the fact that I couldn’t act.  Now, I’m much more centered in my desire to be a writer.  As Virginia Woolf famously said, “So long as you write what you want to write, that is all that matters.  And whether what you write lasts for hours or for ages, nobody knows.”

I have made a goal for myself that when I come to the end of my life, I will be able to say:  I wrote my truth.  Indeed, I intend to fictionalize my life, picking small, interesting bits and details much like a magpie drawn to shiny bits of ribbon.

Augusten Burroughs was originally named Chris Robison, but changed his moniker in an effort to free himself from his past, and create a new future of his own design.  I have adopted my middle name, Anson, as my last name, to honor my Irish heritage as well as to lay claim to my life and experiences.  I too want to fashion my own life in a way of my own choosing.  As part of this, I quit drinking because I realized it was destroying my creativity.  Ernest Hemingway may have been able to write through the haze of alcohol, but then again, he despaired and killed himself, something I most definitely not want for myself.  To me, taking charge of my life is similar in many ways to a Tom Tom or Garmin GPS leading me on my way.  And when things don’t always work out the way I intend, there is always that feature of GPS:  recalculating.  I make myself accountable and responsible for my own trajectory.  And while I’m at it, let me encourage you to forge ahead and plan your own path.

Advertisements