Art

Sometimes Heartache Is The Best Medicine 

So this week it was back to reality after seven days in the Caribbean. I could say I am sad and depressed to come back to my normal life but that would be untrue. My life excites me, especially what lies ahead. Originally my plan was to get tons of work done on my novel during this trip to St. Thomas but I didn't. Honestly, I didn't add one word to it. The only writing I got done were a few poems here and there and social media posts. You know what? Typically this would leave me filled with extreme guilt but not this time, relaxation and fun is exactly what I needed.

Burning the candle at both ends for the past few years as an author-prenuer with a day job has caused my writing career to grow significantly but it's also taken a toll. The price I’ve paid willingly and it was very much worth it, I have no regrets. Basking in the warm Caribbean sun and floating in its pristine turquoise waters was a realignment for my soul and I needed it badly. After the trip I feel recharged and ready for what's next. What comes next for me is setting and achieving some pretty awesome goals. One of those goals is beginning to consciously realign my life to make way for even more writing, more growth, and more travel.

What I’ve found is writers are always working, even if it’s subconsciously. When we’re not writing we’re usually taking mental notes about nearly everyone and everything that crosses our path. While I was in St. Thomas I met many interesting and a few wonderful souls. I also had some true growth experiences. The wonderful souls were strangers at first but we parted as friends. When this happens you’re enriched because, in a way, these people's stories and experiences become your own.

We met a young couple from San Diego, she was a competitive swimmer and he was a personal trainer. Then there was a man from Romania and his wife. He had immigrated to the US when he was nineteen and almost died during a failed attempt to escape Communist Romania in the mid-eighties before the Berlin wall fell. He suffered abuse at the hands of nuns who taught at the school he went to as a child, and corrupt Romanian police and military officers later in life. Against those odds he still went on to immigrate to America and build a successful construction business. During a brief chat over a delicious breakfast he told me two or three ways to immobilize an attacker with my bare hands.

The last and most profound of the connections we made was with our AirBNB host, Lecia (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3139209?s=p6pABAhB). She taught in in St. Thomas for decades and retired but is still very involved in the community. She cares deeply about the children of the island and their future, she also cares about the environment. Her home is almost completely self-sustaining, she eats a plant-based diet and drives an electric car (which is charged by her solar panels.) Even better, through very smart decisions and hard work she’s built a life that gives her freedom to do what makes her happy. This entrepreneurial path is the one I’m walking on now and I need to surround myself with these kinds of people and soak up their wisdom.

I've always loved travel but didn’t fully understand why. I’ve always been fascinated by new people, places, and experiences. Exploration runs deep in the DNA of humanity. I think our ancestors found out long ago that seeking new places and new experiences make us better and stronger, they deepen our knowledge of both ourselves and of the Universe. Growth doesn't come from doing more of the same things. Yes, ordinary life hands us its share of lessons but when we're traveling those lessons are condensed in significantly higher doses over a shorter period of time.

I came back from this trip feeling inspired and prepared to take more chances. Dreams have their place but I’m tired of dreaming. I want to make more of a conscious effort to build the framework that will bring about the birth of Eric version 2.0. (or is it version 3.0?)

I’ve learned many things through my two plus decades of struggle as a writer. Dreams only provide a temporary respite from a life that is less than ideal. For dreams to work they must be paired with smart decisions, follow through, and lots of hard work. Over the next few months I’m going to be shuffling many of the priorities in my life around to make more room for writing (of course) and travel.

I’ve learned during the St. Thomas trip that travel isn’t as much a luxury as it is a necessary element in my life equation. Now that I'm back into my weekly routine of being rushed and pressed for time my heart literally aches when I look at the pictures from our trip and recall the freedom we felt. I’m going to use that heartache as a motivator. From now on I’m going to be budgeting for travel just as though it was healthcare coverage or groceries, in my opinion it’s just as important.

I’m honored that so many of you wonderful souls are here with me to take part in my journey. I’m excited to see what the coming months will bring for us all. I promise you, the second novel, Truth Is Stranger, will be completed soon come Hades or rising tides.

~Eric Vance Walton~

The Drum

I still remember the sky was a deep sapphire that afternoon when the dead drone of the drum began,

their coffers were far from empty but they were still hungry for power and dollars, their only Gods

not a hint of regret laid across the lips of lady liberty but it did her people, they are good people, mostly, simple people

the propaganda machine had spewed its stinking filth for years leaving us so numb we were willing to believe anything, but this time was different

divisions were melting away, our world was shrinking and people were thinking, yearning badly for a lasting peace so the powers that be brought us only war

after all it's never been their sons or daughters who get the blood on their hands, only the simple people are sent to inflict the wounds and collect the scars that will cause hate and pain to rip through generations, like a tsunami

our deepest level of trouble were the false flags of fear, their hypnotic switches causing one to doubt what they know to be true

 

in their hearts, this is all they need, easy belief of these kinds of lies have always been the weeds in our garden

but the peace has always been there within us, we see the shine of it from the corners of our eyes deep down like a gold nugget flashing, nestled in the smooth rock of the river bed

to uncover it, we need

less logic and more ramble but we must learn this quickly

before our world lies

smoldering in shambles,

this time there will be no second chances, no Phoenix rising, not this time

through all of this they failed to realize that this is just the sort of thing that turns peaceful souls into revolutionaries,

our righteous and beautiful voices

may just shout them down in unison, most of us, we are just

simple people after all,

simple folks who want the chance to succeed or fail, fill our lungs with clean fresh air, and slay our demons one by one, have ourselves a bit of fun

but in the distance I hear the dreaded drum, the dead drone of the drum.

War Drum

~Eric Vance Walton~

 

Just Another Day

Darren was a bachelor, he would claim by choice, and he was also very particular. His life was lived like a sacred ritual, trying his best to make sure that each day was the same as the last. He woke each weekday morning at 5:20am sharp, showered, and shaved his salt and pepper shadow with a vintage chrome safety razor. He then brewed an extra strong cup of coffee and prepared breakfast which consisted of steel cut oatmeal with a quarter cup of blueberries and half a pat of grass fed butter, never more. Although Darren was what most people would consider content he had always felt like his life was missing something indescribable. It was as though his soul was a jigsaw puzzle that was almost complete, the few missing pieces were where his heart was but he had no idea of where to find them.

Just before leaving for the office Darren always watered his bonsai tree, a ficus of the variety sold at Walmart, with one half cup of spring water, perfectly measured. For the last ten years Darren had cared for the bonsai like it was his first born. He even gave it a name, he called it Moe because the shape of the tree’s foliage reminded him of the mop top hairstyle of the lead stooge of the same name. His boss had given him Moe as a gift for his fifth anniversary with the accounting agency.

The first night Darren brought the bonsai home to his apartment he had the distinct impression that, in some inexplicable way, Moe’s well-being would forever connected to the security of this job. He believed with all of his being that as long as he kept the bonsai healthy he would never need to worry about the security of his job at the agency. In Darren’s mind his theory was substantiated the following year. He had overslept by only few minutes and was running late, as a result he had forgotten to water Moe. This couldn’t have happened on a worse day, it was the day of his annual performance review at the agency and his absentmindedness cost him dearly, that year he received a measly ten cent raise.

Each Saturday morning Darren allowed himself the luxury of one extra hour of sleep, he felt that any more would be wasting the day away. Upon waking his Saturday ritual was almost identical to the previous five mornings except for one: instead of taking the northbound train to the office he crossed to the other side of the station and boarded the southbound train to the Snelling Avenue stop. Just across the street from the Snelling station stood Wimbley’s Books and the hand painted sign out front, in bold red letters read, “Rare and Out of Print Books.”

Darren spent nearly every Saturday weeding through the stacks of books, intoxicated by the mustiness of antiquity. Wimbley’s was the one of the few places on Earth where he felt like he fit in. Sometimes he would pack a sandwich and a piece of fruit in his messenger bag for sustenance enough to spend the entire day there.

From the moment he got off the train he felt as though a magnet was pulling him towards the front door of Wimbley’s shop. His strides were a little more hurried than usual as he crossed the busy street. Sam, one of Mr. Wimbley’s clerks, had left Darren a cheery voice mail on Tuesday morning with the news that his book had arrived. It took all of his restraint not to continue riding right on past his normal stop that night after work to pick up the treasure. Darren worried over the matter for the rest of his workday that Tuesday but was worried that any deviation in his routine might throw off his luck for the rest of the week.

Darren turned the doorknob and stepped inside Wimbley’s shop and as he did the tarnished brass bell that hung above the door chimed alerting the staff he had arrived.

“It’s Darren, nine o’clock exactly...punctual as always. I have no idea how you waited four days to pick this up, you have more patience than me,” Mr. Wimbley said peering over top of his wire rimmed glasses, eyes squinting as he smiled.

“It wasn’t easy, Sir! I was just so busy,” Darren answered as he blew into his hands and quickly rubbed them together.

The treasure that Mr. Wimbley spoke of was a copy of a fifteenth century Irish illuminated manuscript obtained from an extensive book collection in Dubai. There were only three known copies of this ancient manuscript created by a lone Irish monk.

Legend has it that the monk, whose name had since been lost to history, lived in a two room stone house that stood alone amongst the craggy cliffs of the Irish seashore. The monk had befriended the two Gaelic tribes in the region he was put in charge of converting to Christianity by the Vatican. After living among the native people for only a few months the monk went rogue and adopted the pagan people’s dress and their way of life.

The monk was so taken by the power of these people’s spiritual beliefs he felt it his duty to meticulously transcribe the Gallic druids’ oral tradition word for word. Each page of the book was handwritten in flowing calligraphy; although it was officially untitled, the book was referred to in collector’s circles as The Gaelic Book of Wisdom. The book contained three hundred and sixty-five passages, one for each day of the year. The monk then made two additional copies of the book, he kept one for himself and the remaining two were given to the chieftain of each of the two tribes. When the word got out that the monk had been turned by pagans and failed in his missionary work, assassins were dispatched by the Pope himself to put a swift end to the monk’s shenanigans before a legend was born.

The Gaelic Book of Wisdom is now considered one of the grails of bibliophiles. A person had be in the inner circle to even know about, let alone, get a chance at owning something as special as this. Darren’s ticket into this rarified world was Mr. Wimbley and his admission was earned slowly over decades of patronizing his bookstore and thousands of dollars changing hands.

One of Wimbley’s long time clerks, Samantha Fletcher or Fletch as she was called by the regulars, came from behind the counter and handed Darren a pair of white gloves, “I know you’re a virgin,” her face turned a bright pink, “umm…I mean, uh when it comes to owning rare books.”

Fletch took a deep breath and regained her composure, “You’ll want to wear these gloves whenever you handle it. Otherwise the oil from your skin will discolor the pages. Always remember, this book is an irreplaceable artifact. It’s so easy to forget in today’s world of disposable things how fragile and valuable something like this is.”

Fletch was attractive in a waspy conservative sort of way. Her hazel eyes were studious and she wore her brown hair short in a fashionable bob cut. She was almost always stealing glances across the shop at Darren on Saturdays and he would occasionally sneak a look at her too.

Darren had the distinct impression that there was something meant for him in this manuscript and that it would somehow help him to feel whole again. He was hardly a man of means but he was so sure of the importance of this purchase he took out a loan against his 401k to buy it. The incredible details that Fletch had shared with him over successive Saturdays put to rest any reservations he might have had.

Fletch lightly placed her hand on Darren’s shoulder and glanced from side to side to make sure no one else was within earshot, “The auctioneer we bought this from said the previous owner of the book bought it nearly a decade ago a flea market in Paris and found an old letter written on parchment between its pages. The letter told of how the book had a way of finding the person who needed it most and shared stories of how past owner’s lives were magically transformed for the better after acquiring the book...” Fletch trailed off as the brass bell rang and a few new customers noisily filed through the door. There was a look in her eyes that told him there was much more she wanted to say.

“Well, I could really use some magic in my life,” Darren laughed nervously.

Mr. Wimbley wrapped the book carefully in brown paper and tied it off tightly with twine. Darren eagerly handed him a cashier’s check for ten thousand dollars. Mr. Wimbley removed his white gloves and held the check up and studied it in the light. He then paused, slowly twisting the end of this handlebar mustache.

The pause lasted a bit too long for Darren’s liking. He feared Wimbley was having second thoughts about the transaction. Wimbley then shot Darren a look of concern, flicked the check noisily with his finger and said, “Darren, you’re now among the ranks of a precious few. Do you promise to take good care of this book?”

Darren exhaled more deeply than he ever did in his life, he knew now he had crossed all of the hurdles.

“I do, “ Darren said.

As he exited the shop Darren cradled the book against chest as if it was a newborn baby. He decided he wouldn’t take off the wrapper until he was home but could swear that he felt the power in it as he held the book close.

He could remember nothing of the train ride home, all he could think about was unwrapping his treasure. He quickly unlocked the door of his apartment, slid on the white gloves Fletch had given him, then carefully cut the twine with his Swiss army knife. Darren held his breath as he slowly peeled back the brown paper revealing the book’s cover, it was an emerald green leather and was in remarkably good condition for its age, only slightly faded.

As Darren cracked open the book he was in awe of the richness of color on the pages and elegant flourishes of the calligraphy. The scent was a combination of old paper, leather, and the sea. He started to read and from the first few words Darren felt wisdom and vitality pour over him. Immediately he got the distinct impression that little by little the puzzle of his life was being completed and this book contained all there was for him to learn.

A few days passed and he read from the book religiously. Each day he arose an extra fifteen minutes early to allow himself time to mindfully absorb each new passage. Almost immediately he began to notice a great change in his life: men treated him with more respect; women began to notice him; and the day's events seemed to suddenly flow effortlessly in his favor.

On Wednesday of the following week Darren’s phone buzzed as he was grocery shopping, he glanced at it and decided to pick up the call when he noticed, “Wimbley’s Books” flash across the screen.

“Hello,” Darren said sheepishly.

“It’s me, Fletch,” she paused, “I don’t know how to tell you this but I just couldn’t go through with it any longer.”

“I’m not sure what you mean,” Darren said dumbfounded as he continued bagging his pink lady apples.

“There’s something I need to tell you.” Darren could hear Fletch breathing heavily on the other side of the line.

“Sure, what is it?”

“I made it all up about the book,” she said as she started to sniffle. The sniffles then turned into sobs.

Darren tied off the plastic bag and dropped the apples into his cart, “Made it all up? I guess I’m still not sure what you mean.”

Fletch continued nervously, “I mean the book is old and super rare and it was written by an Irish monk but I concocted the whole part about the magical aspect of the book, there was no letter. There’s no magic in it either, Darren. Believe me, I had good intentions, all I wanted was to see you happy and get to get to know you a little better. I thought I might even have a chance to go out with you or something. Please forgive me.”

Darren’s face took on a look of bewilderment as he walked away from his grocery cart. For a moment Darren let his emotions get the better of him and completely forgot where he was.

“You’re lying. I feel the magic in it, I feel the change in me and nothing you tell me can convince me otherwise!” he yelled, now pacing back and forth in the produce aisle.

“Oh I get it, you probably just want the book for yourself, don’t you Fletch? This conversation is done!” Darren said as he forcibly tapped the end call button and shoved the phone into the pocket of his trench coat.

Oh my, after all these years now I have to find myself a new bookstore Darren thought to himself as he took a deep, controlled breath and continued shopping as though it was just another day.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

Deep Pockets, Empty Souls

So many little stories unfold  all around us we must smile

and try to enjoy

our brief journey, the intricacies 

of which we 

know nothing 

about, really we must dig deep

to find our greatest joy

and relish each moment

in its wonder only then we will know

this isn't just a world of 

deep pockets 

and empty souls. ~Eric Vance Walton~

Showcase Saturday!

Showcase SaturdayWhenever you see this meme on my page it's your cue to share your books, your blog, your art, photography, or anything you would like share with my amazing global audience.  There's one rule and one rule only, if you participate please SHARE the entire post on your own timeline. As an extra added thank you if there are five or more contributors, the contributor who receives the most likes within the first 8 hours of when the post first appears will win a free eBook copy of my novel, Alarm Clock Dawn.  

Happy Saturday, everyone! ~Eric Vance Walton~

  

The Greatest Gift

  When there are no more jobs for these hands, no more ideas  streaming from my mind

I wish to be remembered as a cultural chameleon, a humble drifter, sensitive to the beauty of this world

these days, they are borrowed, but the memories are ours to keep

the greatest gift of the mortal is living a life so brave that you find your tribe, and grow old with those know your soul so well, they can see the world through your eyes.

~Eric Vance Walton~

How To Fail

HOW TO FAIL MISERABLY AS A WRITER (or anything else) It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you think you are, if you can’t figure out how to connect with readers you’re not going to sell anything. Internet marketing for indie authors is especially tough to figure out. Often our budgets are small or even non-existent and the rules are changing often.

This is important stuff. If you don’t figure it out eventually you’ll be discouraged enough to give up on your dream. I admit that marketing has never been one of my strong suits. This is one of the reasons it took my writing career so long to take off.  I was that skinny and awkward kid with thick glasses that few things came naturally to. I would practice things hundreds of times until I perfected them. One of the few things I had on my side was persistence. I’m still that same kid inside, only larger, with a few gray hairs, and the nagging thought that time goes far too fast to waste it.

A month ago I tried to make a poached egg. It ended up looking like egg drop soup. It was terrible. Ten or so attempts and a few YouTube videos later I can make a perfect poached egg. The secret, once I learned it was like magic and made the process easy. What is the secret? Soak the eggs (still in the shell) in white vinegar for five minutes before cracking and boiling them. That was it.

Things are incredibly hard until you figure out the secret and then they’re easy. To find success you must have to have the patience and persistence to get to the EASY.

Most of us have heard the quote by William Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” If a sentence or passage doesn’t work for the good of the overall project you must get rid of it no matter how brilliant you think it is. This is excellent advice but it isn’t easy to do partially because of ego but to a greater degree because of fear that you can’t write something better.

To become a successful writer you must subdue your ego and have the confidence to believe that great ideas come from an endless source within you. When you believe this amazing things begin to happen.

The opposite is true as well. The surest way to fail at this is to write from a place of fear or hold on to ineffective ideas. They become bars in an invisible prison cell that will keep you stuck right where you are.

I know this “kill your darlings” philosophy works for writing so I applied it to marketing. Sometimes the entire marketing idea stinks and has to go but sometimes part of it can be saved, retooled to try again. I’m not getting any younger and the books aren’t selling themselves so I’ll only try a retooled idea once. If the idea doesn’t get results it must go to the scrap heap.

Some of you might remember last summer I had a marketing idea that I was super excited about. While traveling I decided to hand out a few copies of my novel, Alarm Clock Dawn, to random people for free. There was a note inside the front cover asking the recipient to leave me a message on Facebook letting me know what they thought about the book. After they were finished reading it I asked if they would pass the book onto another friend to read and they could do the same, and so on. The whole idea was based on the Pay It Forward philosophy. It was a hard thing to accept because I was sure it would work but the whole thing fell flat. I waited for months but all I heard were crickets...not a single response from anyone. Ever. I had to accept it and move on to something new and better. All of us are a constant work in progress. 

Failure is not an option. Next week I’ll be traveling to Chicago for a long weekend, partially for business but mostly for fun. I’ll be visiting a few independent bookstores and doing some research for my new novel Truth Is Stranger. Along the way I’m going to try this Pay It Forward marketing idea once more. It’ll be interesting to see how it works after a few tweaks. I’ll be updating you all on my experiences throughout this process.

All it really takes in this world to be successful is working through the hard to get to the EASY. I hope your path to easy is a short one. More importantly, I hope you learn quickly from every misstep along the way.

With Gratitude, ~Eric Vance Walton~

Contradiction 

Our consciousness  is the conjuror 

of many contradictions,

this world 

in which we live 

is a lavish stage

of grand illusion, each act is filled 

with sharp edges

and serene softness,

twisted knots,

and breathless beauty, reality is nothing 

but our soul's mirror,

it takes such courage 

to gaze into it,

and admit our thoughts

create everything we see but sometimes 

it's not bravery at all,

sometimes we're just tired 

of being broken and 

simply have no more 

tears left to cry.

~Eric Vance Walton~

The Curtain

As the curtain of darkness is drawn tight

and the incense smoke hangs still,

muse settles in

and I become its channel it’s quick to remind me

in its soft murmurs

that possibilities and hope

are still within the reach of my mind muse, my sweet amnesia,

makes me forget my wounds,

my worries and

the prickly ache of time passed once refocused in the moment

it’s easy to see my scars

make me who I am

but do not define me worries are only time wasted,

my muse is otherworldly

and Heaven sent,

it leaves me lifted, with the warmth of it

wrapped around me

I can brush the

the frigid throes of this world

from my shoulders again I can walk

with head raised,

proud of each facet of my soul,

happy in every cell of my being,

filled with the anticipation

of what might be. ~Eric Vance Walton~

Just Fly

Free me from this gravity, only long enough 

so that my mind may rest, 

my soul may soar, 

and this heart, 

for a moment,

might feel a splendid

absence of yearning

 

there is so much more

to this life than we can see 

and these words are wings

that hold me aloft

long enough to remember worries and wants 

are beggars who keep us 

mired in mortality 

and ever shield us

from our truths  when life 

leaves us lost

we must only 

remember that  

inside each of us is 

all we will ever need call on the magic 

of your muse,

spread your wings,

and just fly. ~Eric Vance Walton~

CRACKED ACROSS THE KNUCKLES BY THE UNIVERSE

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Do you remember what an incredible feeling it was to believe in Santa Claus or Superman? There was a certain comfort and hope as a child believing that there were really no limits, not everything could be explained, and that some element of magic was part of everyday life. When we were young the line between magic and reality, as we know it, was blurred. As a child you knew there was something beyond what your five senses could perceive.  For all its great contributions over the last hundred years science has indirectly taken something immensely valuable away from humanity. Science has imposed false limits that have held us hostage in accordance to our level of intelligence. Our egos lull us into believing that nothing more than we currently think is scientifically possible can be real.  

I’m not knocking science, it’s not the main culprit but our egos most definitely are. We must understand that science’s system of so-called absolutes is limited by our level of intelligence and sophistication of our tools. Science is only the ability to measure our uppermost understanding of reality. It’s important not to confuse a system of measure with absolute truth. 

We must never think we “know it all” or lose our hunger to evolve into a greater version of ourselves. To give into the ego is the lazy path and although it might seem easy at first it only brings suffering in the end. This causes mental and spiritual stagnation and will prevent us from growing to solve problems that, on the surface, appear to be trying to bring about our demise. 

As we’ve seen in the brief snapshot of the last hundred years as our intellect grows we realize things science once told us were impossible are, in fact, possible. Albert Einstein searched but never was able to find the elusive Unified Theory, the theory of everything that tied all of his other theories together. As the sophistication of our tools have grown many physicists are theorizing that consciousness itself is the golden string that ties everything together. What amazing power we possess if this turns out to be the case. 

As I’ve progressed down the path of meditation in the last twenty years my sense of reality has drastically changed. In some ways it has come full circle. As my consciousness has expanded through meditation an inextinguishable sense of wonder and hope have returned. I’ve come to realize that “I’m” just one tiny drop in a vast ocean of consciousness. 

Meditation taught me that the Universe is an interactive web that presents each of us with lessons, in real time, as we’re meant to learn them. We are students and our job is to merely pay attention and to learn. Life will teach you everything you need to know. Until you grasp the meaning of the lessons you can bet they will be repeated, again and again until you get the message. The Universe is like the proverbial nun that cracks you across the knuckles with a ruler if you don’t get the message. This is happening to a lot of people but they don’t realize why.

I’ve been cracked across the knuckles by the Universe more times than I dare to admit. There has been great struggle in my life but I’ve also experienced magic, many things that I once believed were impossible. The severity of the struggle can be far less the more quickly we learn our lessons. I’m convinced that the purpose of this physical life is to learn, to love, and to evolve into that greater version of yourself. I have no doubt this is one reason I’ve connected so much with the Choose Yourself movement because they share this same philosophy.

I truly believe consciousness is humanity’s next great frontier to explore and it makes me ecstatic to think of the possibilities. After I’ve seen what meditation has done for me I have no doubt that, if practiced on a global scale, it would spark the next phase of humanity’s evolution. Meditation is the single most powerful evolutionary tool we have at our disposal. 

Imagine waking up each day with a sense of wonder and that you're beginning a wonderful new adventure. To do this we must only invest a few minutes of our day to venture inward with a daily meditation practice. If you do so one thing will quickly become apparent, we have only scratched the surface of our superpowers. $h!t happens in life but so do miracles and these miracles occur every single moment. The real question is...are you awake enough to notice? 

~Eric Vance Walton~

----------------------------- About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton 

PERFECTING OUR STORIES

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It’s astonishing is how fast it happened. One day I was young and then I blinked my eyes and somehow landed in the unchartered territory of my middle years.This June I turned the double quatro, forty-four years old, and have started to notice some interesting very things going on.

There are the well known physical changes of middle age, decreased muscle tone, laugh lines starting to form, higher forehead and gray hair. As we approach the autumn of our years, no matter how hard we try to hide it, our faces truly reveal the kind of lives we've lived.

The psychological changes are even more interesting. Before middle age I thought the repetition of stories was just something seniors did along with complaining about whippersnappers and eating dinner at three-thirty in the afternoon. I was wrong. Yes, my friends and I are now beginning to tell the same stories over and over again.

This could easily be attributed to some natural age-related cognitive decline, stress, or maybe the accumulative effects of too many beer bongs in the 80’s and 90’s but I don't think this is totally it. It’s as though we are retelling the stories that comprise the mosaic of who we are because a small part of us are afraid we’ll be forgotten. On some level we want our stories to be forever etched into the collective consciousness of humanity. We want our brief blip of existence on this planet to be remembered.

The middle years usher in wave after wave of profound realizations or “Oh $h!t” moments as I call them. I think Generation X, like every generation who came before us, are experiencing, “Oh $h!t” moments on an epic scale. I see it in mass media, social media and face-to-face, we are waking up to the fact that we’re not going to live forever. When you have an Oh $h!t moment it can’t be denied and isn't easily forgotten. It’s a realization that can be felt on a deep cellular level.

Because of this, Gen Xers are discovering how valuable time is and are figuring out how we can best spend the time we have left more wisely. I’m concerning myself much less about what others think of me or the balance of my investment portfolio. Lately, I’m focusing more on happiness, facing fears, and making awesome new memories. Most importantly, I’m thinking about how I will be remembered by those I leave behind. Lately, I’ve been making a conscious attempt to shed anything or anybody who doesn't bring a spark of joy to my life. Time is just too short to spend what you have left of it mired in drama and negativity.

I’ll admit this year I’ve given a lot of thought about my legacy. To get to the bottom of it I asked, what do I love greater than myself? After a little contemplation I decided that the legacy I wish to leave the world with will be small, often anonymous, acts of kindness and my words. I hope the many words I’ve written and the words I’ve yet to write will spark some joy in others. I hope my words make someone think, or smile, or even know that they’re not alone in this world. If my words accomplish this my life will have been complete.

Thinking about legacy can be uncomfortable. It can even border on morose but it doesn’t have to be that way. Contemplating and then consciously creating a legacy can provide an extra boost of octane to those of us in middle age who are beginning to feel a bit weary and worn around the edges. I tend think it as a little red button on the steering wheel of life that, once pressed, propels me through mires of the middle years, soreness, fatigue, and at times, the worry that my life will never quite measure up to the one I wished for in my dreams.

Time can teach, time can heal, and time eventually always reveals the truth...IF a person is awake enough to notice. Sometimes we simply must take a deep breath, have faith and take comfort that the universe is unfolding exactly as it was meant to. One thing's for certain, there’s no fighting age or time. There’s such a profound beauty in learning from our missteps, gathering wisdom, and surrendering to time gracefully.

I would like to leave you with a three things I’d like you to ask yourself. What do you love greater than yourself? What will be your legacy? How would you like the world remember you? When you answer these questions your life changes in some pretty amazing ways. What once seemed so important starts to seem trivial and some things that seemed trivial all of a sudden pretty damned important.

Shakespeare penned the following lines in his play, As You Like It nearly five hundred years ago,

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

Here the Bard sums life up with his typical genius. Yes, life can hard and it is short but it is also the most amazing ride. Not a minute of it should be taken for granted. We are put on this Earth to love, to learn, to grow, and perhaps to help make life a little easier for others. Each of us have the chance to leave our own unique stamp on the world. What will yours be?

~Eric Vance Walton~ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

10 WAYS TO PIMP PROOF YOUR LIFE*

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10 WAYS TO PIMP PROOF YOUR LIFE*Pimped (slang): To be persuaded, smooth talked or tricked by another person into doing something for their benefit. Apparently I'm an extremely slow learner because it's taken me twenty years to just begin to find modest success as a writer. In my defense, writing is one of the most difficult professions in the world. In the last twenty years I've learned some hard won lessons by being pimped (i.e., taken advantage of, swindled, led on a professional equivalent of a snipe hunt) in almost every imaginable way. Below are some of the most effective ways I’ve learned to shield myself from the pimps of the world:   1. Realize your true worth and never tie that self worth to anything outside of yourself. Your self worth should never be measured by anything external like money, possessions, looks, or anything other than the treasures you hold within yourself. Never seek acceptance or validation from others. This alone takes away most of the pimp's power of persuasion. If you are walking around with a general feeling that you don’t measure up this is a good indicator that you have work to do on yourself, spiritual work. I realized this in my early twenties. I began a self improvement regime that prompted me to move eight hundred miles away from home and to master meditation. I became a new person because of it.   

2. Get to know your true self. This isn’t as easy as it seems. Have the courage to learn who you really are beneath the mask that you’ve become accustomed to wearing so you will be accepted and liked by others. This takes courage and honesty, this takes deep reflection, this involves assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Pimps seek out victims who don't know who they are, the confused, and the indecisive. We spend too much of our time and energy trying to figure out other people and events in our lives but not nearly enough attention on introspection and contemplation of ourselves. Once we know ourselves we can learn to love ourselves. If we don’t like what we see, we can also identify what we need to work on.  

3. Be original. Once you have removed the mask and are comfortable with who you are relish it then unapologetically flaunt the h@ll out of it. There's only one you, a single person who sees the world through the exact same lens as you. Don't dare compromise your future fans and/or customers by emulating anyone else. There are many people waiting to connect with your uniqueness. Do you. Learn to be confident and comfortable in your own skin and others will be drawn to you. People can feel genuine confidence and are attracted to it like a magnet. Authenticity sends the pimps running for an easier target.     4. Live, eat, and breathe your business or craft. You must learn your business or craft inside and out. It must be absorbed into your DNA. It’s cliche but knowledge truly is power. Your passion in life should not feel like work. I repeat it should not feel like work. Your business or craft should give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and provide you with hope that is the guiding light through dark days. If this is the case, it is a very good indication that you should doggedly pursue it. Your passion simply must feel like one of the greatest loves of your entire life.    5. Don't be afraid to fail. Pimps can smell fear from a mile away. Unless you're extremely smart or very lucky you will fail a few times. You may even fail five times like me, or more but that’s okay. I published five books before I sold even two hundred copies of a book title. Sure I was depressed about it but I learned something from each and every failure. If you learn a lesson it’s never a failure.    6. Do the work. Research shows that it takes ten thousand hours to master a new skill. I would argue it takes another five to ten thousand hours to learn the skill well enough to put your own unique stamp on that skill. This will set you apart from everyone else doing the same thing. The most important thing is to start...start today. It’s absolutely not necessary to “pay dues” in anything, never let anyone let you believe this line of thinking. This is a trick the pimps of the world use to exploit you. But you better believe there’s no way around having to do the work. There’s a difference.    7. No excuses. Believe me, I've used them all, "I'm too old, I don't have enough time, I don't have enough money, no one will publish my work, no agent is interested in me, I don’t know the right people, etc." This is pure bull$h!t. Very few people are handed anything in this world. The problem is some people just make it look easy. The clock of your life is ticking, don’t delay. The sooner you begin the sooner you’ll eventually find success.    8. Be patient. The universe unfolds according to its own timeline, not yours. For fifteen years I watched almost every single one of my peers far surpass me in every measurable way. Have faith and trust that everything that mystifies you will eventually make sense in hindsight.Trust me, it will. Most people quit when they’re just inches away from the finish line. Don’t quit.    9. You can’t do it alone. Trying to wear every hat and be an expert in everything will not only lead to exhaustion it will take you years longer to achieve your goals. Outsource what you’re not proficient in to the experts and focus on your strengths this creates a shortcut. Do you remember those first five books I mentioned before that didn’t sell? I failed because I did everything myself from book layout to cover design, to promotion. I spread myself too thin to spend enough time on the things that mattered. Learn from my mistakes, assemble a talented team to help you achieve your goals. If you don’t have money offer to trade skills or offer them a percentage of future sales up to a certain amount. Also, find an altruistic network of people who support you and provide honest feedback. I found a wonderful online forum of like minded individuals on Facebook called, “Choose Yourself” (based on James Altucher’s bestselling book of the same title) that has been a tremendous help to me.   10. Help others whenever you can. This is especially important to do when you’re feeling depressed or like you’re a failure because it boosts you up! This kind of behavior is the ultimate pimp-repellent. It confuses them, they don’t understand it. In truth, there’s so much success to go around that it should never be hoarded, rather it should be shared. There’s plenty available for everyone to have their own piece. No matter where you are in the pursuit of your passion there’s likely someone you can teach or encourage. When you do this the world literally opens up to you. We’re so lucky to live in an age where it’s easy to connect with large groups of people to share our stories and teach. Others can learn from the mistakes you made and you can offer them the invaluable gift of providing a shorter path to success. The really beautiful thing is the universe rewards this kind of behavior and you’ll ultimately find much greater success because of it.    I hope these tips have helped to give you something to think about. In reality, the pimps of the world are cowards and bullies that thrive on intimidation, scare tactics, and empty promises to survive.    These people will never find happiness and true peace until they learn to evolve and become a better version of themselves. Even if a few of the steps above are mastered your life will quickly become more pimp proof.   Each of us have a right and an equal opportunity to experience life as a victor instead of a victim. The only true limits are the ones we perceive in our minds. Life can be much more wondrous than we can even imagine. The choice is yours, which path will you choose?  ~Eric Vance Walton~

DON’T FALL FOR ANYONE’S BULL$H!T (ESPECIALLY YOUR OWN)

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All of us can think of at least one talented artist (musician, writer, actor, etc.) whose creative prowess peaks a few years into their careers and they spend the rest of their lives chasing their former glory. As a creative person myself I always feel horrible for both them as well as the loyal fans who follow them down the death spiral of their careers hoping their heroes will regain their glory. Many times these people just can’t seem to free themselves from the gravity of the spiral and their work gets progressively more and more out of touch. They eventually become irrelevant, or even more tragically, a societal joke. I've heard many excuses as to why this happens, among them are laziness, too much of the good life, a creative dry spell, burnout, old age. What do I say about these excuses? I call bull$h!t...quite literally. I think all of these excuses are merely symptoms caused by two different kinds of bull$h!t.

Let me elaborate.

I've been writing for decades and have recently had the good fortune to finally achieve a small taste of success. As a result of this I’ve suddenly realized how crafty bull$h!t is and how easily it can creep into your life. If you achieve even a small amount of success in this world inevitably people begin lavish you with praise and tell you how talented you are. Most times this praise comes from a altruistic place within the people who are doing the praising but occasionally it doesn’t. Sometimes people seek you out and will stroke your ego so they can manipulate you into doing things for them. These are the takers.

The truth is when you begin to believe the praise from either source that praise turns into poison for both your soul and your career.

As a creative person you must proceed with caution and become cognizant of which category the praise falls into. It’s difficult at first but gets easier to discern with practice. In a short amount of time you develop a sixth sense for spotting takers and they become easily avoidable.

The altruistic praise is ten times more dangerous. We feel that it’s sincere and after struggling for so long it feels amazing to get this kind of attention. This sincere praise creates an emotional high that we begin to crave more of, if we allow ourselves to believe it. Some people become addicts and surround themselves with people who lavish them with praise. So begins the death spiral.

The antidote to the bull$h!t is to accept the praise, be grateful to the praiser for it, then release it long before it has a chance to turn into bull$h!t.

You see, altruistic praise only is recycled into bull$h!t when you begin to believe it. Ego is our kryptonite. Each time you believe it makes you feel as though you’re as good as you need to be. You feel as though you’ve finally attained your long sought after goal and you no longer need to learn, grow, polish your craft, and evolve into a better version of yourself.

I liken this modern world to a treadmill, things move so fast that to stand still means you quickly fall behind. The only way for most of us to be truly successful and create a sustainable career is to wake up to the fact that we will never truly “get there”. Our work will never be quite done. We will be honing our craft until the day we die. In fact if this seems tiring and it feels like work we probably shouldn’t be doing it.

I’ve learned that it’s truly never been about the destination, it has always been about the journey. This journey is exhilarating, I wake up every day with a new wish and a renewed sense of hope.

Enjoy each second of your journey but just be careful where you step and that your meter is finely tuned.

~Eric Vance Walton~ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.

10 TIPS FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING CREATIVE PEOPLE

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If you are not creative but have creative people in your life the following list may help you decipher some of our perceived oddities. If you are a creative person you might recognize some or all of these attributes in yourself and find some comfort in the fact that you're not alone. With a little understanding and compassion we can all happily coexist and even learn from one another. Here are some tips to help better understand us:

1. Absolutely by no means sneak up on us. We are often deep in thought and we are easy to startle.

2. Most of us tend to be empaths (whether we realize it yet it or not). This means we have the ability to be very "in tune" with others and feel their negative and positive emotions. This is confusing to us until we figure it out. Other's emotions tend to easily transfer to us and we can misinterpret them as our own. Because of this it's very important to pay attention to the company you keep. William Gibson's quote (often falsely attributed to Sigmund Freud) comes to mind here, "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assh*les." Also, we tend to make most of our decisions based on gut feeling instead of intellectualizing as analytical people do. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it doesn't. It's a roll of the dice.

3. We will occasionally have outbursts when ideas come to us or mumble incoherently to ourselves. When this happens please excuse the wild look in our eyes and our scrambling to find some way to quickly record those ideas. We are like channels and when we're in the creative flow complex ideas hit us spontaneously and swirl inside our heads. When this happens we tend to shut everything else out until we record those ideas. If we don't write them down chances are we'll forget them and we're afraid that we might lose them forever.

4. Life can be especially difficult for us. As a creative we're either: 1. working a job that doesn't afford us the chance to use our creativity and satisfying our creative urge on our own time; or 2. pursuing our creative passions as a full time career. Both are equally as challenging. Those of us who fall in the first category usually have money to pay the bills but often have to work the equivalent of two full time jobs. Those creative people brave and smart enough to figure out a way to monetize their passion to the point of making a full time income usually have the stress of trying to financial make ends meet . As James Altucher (The Choose-Yourselfer-and-Chief) explains, finding multiple revenue streams is often the answer. Either way we're very busy folks.

5. We're typically introverts in varying degrees. Even if we truly enjoy and appear comfortable socializing it can sometimes take more energy for us. This is partially attributed to #2 above.

6. It can sometimes be difficult for us to make other, non-creative people, understand how we feel (and vice versa) but it can be done with patience and practice. In my opinion, this is why so many creative people express their feelings and emotions through their chosen art.

7. Most of us creatives are eccentric and rebellious. We feel smothered by routine and conformity. Creative people tend to not follow trends. We see through propaganda and it makes us angry and agitated when we feel someone is trying to control us for their own agenda.

8. We tend to enjoy altered states of consciousness because we quickly learn that achieving these altered states of consciousness can open up our creative channels. Those of us who are lucky discover that through meditation we can achieve this altered state without the outside help of drugs, alcohol or anything external. Meditation is the creative person's best friend, personally and professionally.

9. We need quiet time to devote to our creative passions. Creating is what feeds our souls and we get frustrated and depressed when we don't have the time to do this. Please be respectful of a creative person's privacy when they are creating. If you give them the gift of this time they will be happier in all other aspects of their life.

10. Honest support and feedback is invaluable to us, even if it stings at first. I can only imagine how frustrating and tiring it is for non-creative people when their creative friends and relatives are constantly and enthusiastically sharing their latest idea. It's easy to say you like everything but if the idea stinks, tell us it stinks. You might save us valuable time and give us ideas to polish our idea and make it better.

Pass this along handy guide on to all of your friends, creative and non-creative alike. It's a big world and it takes all kinds. As the French say, "Vive la difference!"

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Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. You can find Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.

Article © 2015 Eric Vance Walton

Do you know what you’d like to say to that special someone but can’t find the words?

I would love to help. I’ve been writing poetry for over two decades and have published several books. Google my full name (Eric Vance Walton) and you will see that my individual poems have been published widely in many publications and literary journals.

Through my decades of experience I will insure that the poem we craft together reflects the depth of your caring and love for the recipient. This poem will make an impression that will be remembered always [read more]

Bobos

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  As we’re all finding out in countless ways Facebook is a blessing and a curse. Tonight it was a true blessing for me. Let me share with you why...nestled in the comments of a childhood friend’s Facebook post was a word that I hadn’t heard in about thirty years and it is a gem. In fact the term was completely erased from my memory. What was this gem?  Bobo.

 

It’s funny because back in the seventies bobo (pronounced, boe boe) was a word of shame. Bobo was a derogatory term but it was a shame all of us shouldered. Me, my brother Curt, my friend Sean, and our other friend Shawn all grew up on Elizabeth Avenue in a lower middle class neighborhood on the eastside of Columbus, Ohio. Before any of us had the means to scratch together our own money with paper routes or lawn jobs our parents had to buy our clothes and shoes. None of our parents had a lot of extra money so those shoes were always bobos.

 

Just incase you aren’t familiar with the term bobo or have forgotten, like I did, bobo was a term for generic, no-name shoes. Bobos never cost more than ten dollars, they sported, “made in Taiwan” on the label, smelled like burning rubber, and were almost always from Kmart. I have to hand it to the Taiwanese, they were inventive.

 

I suspect the foundation of the entire modern Chinese economy was built by the bobo tycoons of the 1970’s making knock-offs of popular brand shoes like Nike and Adidas. At first glance bobos looked strikingly similar to the popular name brands but had crazy features that were just a little off like an upside down Nike swoosh or four stripes on the Adidas-style shoes instead of three.

 

When new, bobos were magical. The funny thing about bobos is all of us were convinced that we could run just a little faster and jump higher when our bobos were brand new. This luster wore off in just a few days when they were covered in mud and grass stains. The life span of pair of bobos was way too short, it only took a month before they looked like they had been run over by a herd of buffalo. We would still try to make them last all summer.  Between Curt, Sean, Shawn, and I our parents probably paid for the Taiwanese bobo factory several times over.

 

In retrospect I think bobos were actually a good thing. Those parents of the seventies were wise because bobos built character. In our neighborhood you weren’t measured by the clothes or the shoes you wore. You were measured by how fast you could run, how high you could jump, or how far could sail off of a flimsy plywood ramp on your BMX bike (sans helmet or knee pads.)

 

So many children walk around these days with an air of entitlement. I would bet a majority of kids now would refuse to step out their front doors without their smartphones, let alone wearing non-name brand shoes.  Children of the seventies, this is our chance to make a difference in the world. We need only pool our money together, stoke the flames of that Taiwanese shoe factory, and get it churning out bobos again.

Parents, it will be difficult, but we must work together. For this plan to succeed you must refuse to buy your children a pair of name brand shoes ever again. From here on out it’s nothing but bobos until the kids can pay for their own name brand shoes. I have faith that we can stand united and together we will change the world, one child (and one beautiful pair of bobos) at a time.

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

The Best Way

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Thousands of years  reside in each 

of our moments

we are the

derivative of all those 

who came before us

each smile 

they ever smiled,

each mile 

they ever traveled,

each idea 

they ever thought,

each tear 

they ever cried,

every struggle 

they ever fought

you are a link 

in this kinetic chain

that builds upon 

the story of humanity,

one experience at a time

face your fears

live your dreams

fulfill your curiosities

listen to your heart

be your best self

interject yourself

into the narrative of 

the Universe 

this might be 

the best way,

the only way 

to give a proper

thank you to 

the many who lived 

and died for 

you to enjoy 

this very breath.

~Eric Vance Walton~

A Thought Away

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Take me  to the deepest places,

the sacred places, 

not of show but of heart,

warm and filled with light

sing me the songs 

that travel with you 

not just of the stone 

that's in your shoe

When I feel your story 

a piece of you 

will walk with me

until you and I are dust 

and then well beyond 

to that great freedom

that we will learn 

was always just 

a thought away.

~Eric Vance Walton~