The Answers Aren’t Always In the Books


The Answer to the Big Question? It's not always in these.

I have this habit, that has lately begun bordering on obsession.

I look for the Answers to the Big Questions of life in books, or other external sources, first.

See, I have been and am at this point in life in which I feel sort of lost.  I’m unsure of my purpose.  I’m unsure of where I want to go and what I want to do next.  I’m unsure about how to go about finding out.  That’s not to say I don’t have any ideas, but that I’m finding it difficult to sort the viable ideas from the ones better moved to my internal recycling bin.

So, whatever I’m questioning at the time tends to drive me to snatch up whatever spiritual or self-help book looks like it may possibly have the answer in it.   Sometimes the books really get the juices flowing, and bring my inner, intuitive wisdom to the forefront so I can access it.  Sometimes, however, they just add one more voice to the cacophony of opinions of family, well-meaning friends, and other authority figures in my life, past and present, running in a loop through my mind, opinions that don’t really resonate with me but that I feel obligated to at least consider, and, therefore, only serve to make me feel more confused, lost, scared, or inadequate. (Have I mentioned I’ve spent most of my life trying to be a people-pleaser?)

Now, hang with me here a moment.  I’m not saying that self-help books or spiritual books are bad, or that they hinder my personal development.  I am saying that sometimes I need to take a step back and listen to my own inner, intuitive voice instead of a book, program, or authority figure.   Also, I am saying I have found that sometimes a particular book or program may not be for me, even if it was affirming and life-altering for someone else, and that I need to check its usefulness for my life based on my inner, intuitive voice.    Each of us is exactly like no one else on the planet.  Even identical twins, who share DNA, are not exactly the same.  Likewise, it makes sense that some books, programs, or teachers will be great for me, and perhaps not for someone else, and vice versa.

For instance, at the end of last year, I thought I was a blocked creative.  I wasn’t writing much at all.  At the end of 2009 and the dawn of 2010, I dove into the venerable classic turned to for such troubles, The Artist’s Way.  It quickly became a mixed bag for me, and then began to seem as though all it was doing was stirring up my Inner Critic.  I ended up taking a break from it, promising myself that I’d get back to it, which I tried to do this past weekend, but when I got to the exercises and tasks, as always with this book, I found myself riding a wave of pure dread and resistance.  Sometimes we resist what’s good for us, but sometimes that resistance has a reason, and I’ve come to the point that I feel that my resistance to The Artist’s Way, at least the usual way it is followed, is the latter sort of resistance.  I am fine with the chapter text, with Morning Pages, and Artist’s Dates.  These are great!  But I’m not doing the exercises and tasks anymore unless they particularly call to me, because I have no interest in willingly waking up my Inner Critic, nor do I want to feel like igniting my creativity is just one more thing to check off a long to-do list.  Also, it keeps coming to my attention, as I periodically groan about the fickleness of my Muse, that my creativity never actually leaves, it just changes forms (i.e. from focus on writing to focus on photography, etc.).  That being the case, from here on out, I’ve decided I’m going to experiment with applying each chapter’s information in my own way.

Timing can be a big factor in the usefulness of a book or program, too.  Sometimes it’s just not the right time for that book or program and I to jive, and, later, it is.  But, departing from this short digression…

I think I know what I have this pattern of looking in books for The Answers.  It seems much easier to find The Answer to my Big Question in between the covers of a book than it does to do the work to consult my inner wisdom, particularly since I often feel I need another person to back me up when I find that inner, intuitive answer.  In other words, I feel I’m on more stable ground if my inner, intuitive answer can be validated by someone else, especially since my inner, intuitive answer is often at odds with the views of my family and culture-at-large.  (That is so often the case these days.)  I have not yet mastered “standing in my own power” as the wise Magpie Girl calls it, this trusting myself and my inner wisdom above all else, even in the face of opposition.  Learning to do so is proving a slow process, a two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance.

But, slowly I am making headway.  I have found that the answers to the Big Questions aren’t always in the books.  I’ve decided to back away from consulting the books for a bit, and instead go looking for Inner Wisdom and the Muse.

In fact, the Muse arrived last night as I should have been going to bed, bags packed with ideas brought back from her most recent trip away.  She insisted on showing some of them to me before she would let me sleep, and insisted I write them down in my idea book.  I did, and I’m so excited to get started pursuing them!  Once I bring them to life, I’ll share, so stay tuned!

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One thought on “The Answers Aren’t Always In the Books

  1. I’ve been meaning to comment on this uber-relevant post since you wrote it. After my trip to the library this week, I can no longer delay.

    I currently have 36 books checked out from the library!!! In addition to 2 CD’s and 1 DVD.

    The printout (which I requested from the clerk b/c I knew my book piles were out of control) is about a yard long!!!

    I can SO relate to your desire to back away from the ‘expert voices’ and listen to your own wisdom. I SO need to do that as well.

    When and why did we stop trusting ourselves???

    Thank you for this powerful reminder and example.


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