So I am back from that whirlwind retreat-convention-convention trip that has been the last eleven days. The beginning was Imbolc retreat, in the middle was a professional conference, and the end was Pantheacon. At each one, I managed to find a few more elements to add to who I was, as well as develop even more questions about who I am, where I am going, and – as Kristoffer Hughes states – inspire myself. To finish that particular quote – “…because how the fuck can you expect to inspire others if you cannot inspire yourself?”
Indeed. Getting the opportunity to be around so many creative and talented people at each point, there was a lot to be inspired by. And best for me, this has developed into several exciting short-term goals, as well as a few super-long-term goals – in my mundane life, my professional, and even in my magickal life. I am not fond of compartmentalizing aspects of my life, and while I can combine some aspects of each one into various projects and moments, such as using magickal techniques to help visualize data models – to keep things separate is sometimes a necessary component of keeping my sanity. I mean, think about how bad things could get if I started scrawling Cabalistic symbology around the edges of my whiteboard while diagramming an extensive data model? Right?? Or if I started using hardcore statistical inference when trying to get ready for some magickal rite. I could take an informal survey of the various Spirits that I encounter during the ritual, and utilize non-parametric techniques to determine the statistical relevance of the responses, Naw, it is far better to keep those things apart from one another. For my sanity, and for the sake of not opening a portal to another dimension.
Goals; however, are good things to have. A few years back, on the advice of John Beckett and a few others, I started writing a daily journal. That journal now spans seven full Composition notebooks, with an eighth currently in progress. In those journals are everything I encounter, everything I perceive, and everything I dream of over the course of each day. Some entries are several pages in length. A few of the entries are three to five sentences. But these document my goals, the things I want to accomplish in my life, and how well I do (and sometimes do not) manage to reach that goal. Every once in a while, I pick up one of these journals and read where I have been, and create an entry comparing that day with today. For me, that is extremely important because I can chronicle the changes that I see utilizing how I felt in the past as a contrast.
For a long while, I lived a not-so regimented life. I floated wherever I wanted to; I did whatever came to mind, and to be honest, I wasn’t precisely the most reliable friend to have in the bunch. A lot of that was me being completely rebellious to the uber-structured life I lived for eight years in the United States Air Force. Everything was scheduled, had a step-by-step process, and if there was not a manual for it – they would make one. There was even a manual for how to take a shit. No, I’m kidding. But it sure felt like there was one. But that rebellion made me a very chaotic person, and I am still living down aspects of all of that. Plus, I also still find pieces of that in my current life, even though I try to be a bit more structured, and a touch more regimented in how I approach my daily Life. This includes my magickal and Spiritual Life.
See, for me, everything gets tied to ritual, which can be a fairly structured process. I like off-the-cuff ritual formats, but when you work with others – that stuff just does not work well. Well, usually. If you have a group of folks that you just “fit” with – off-the-cuff stuff can become some really special magick. But you just don’t walk down the street and bump into these folks at the subway stairs. Ritual with structure is important. Important for the how, important for the when, important for the why. And if you discard all of that stuff, and try to handle ritual as an off-the-cuff, impromptu New Orleans funeral, what many might refer to as a “Jazz funeral“. That stuff might coalesce with your chosen Gods, but I find that a structured basic format is more comfortable for working magick, as well as putting other practitioners in the ritual at ease. For my personal, solo stuff…jazz hands it is! But there is an appropriate time and place for that. A structure is definitely necessary for public ritual or ritual within a group, from my experience.
The same goes true for the professional life. We use a ticketing system to keep track of data requests and work completed by the Data Analysts in my group. Without that ticketing system, a data request can fall through the cracks, and wind up not being delivered to an internal or external customer that has need of the information. With just a touch of structure, we can ensure that things do not get missed. Provided that people use the system properly.
My journals serve a very similar purpose. Not only is this an issue of finding reliability with continued, measurable action, at the end of the day, I use my time with pen and paper or keyboard and fingers to provide a moment of self-accountability. I can write whatever I want. Shit, I can even lie to myself if I wanted to. But rather than play personal mind games with the journal – I choose to be frank, brutal and honest in what I write. I do beat myself up quite a bit because of one error or misstep here or there. But I also spend time writing about the things I did right, or even the things I learned. After all, this is why I write in my journal in the first place. It serves the purpose of essentially being the little reminder to my brain of what went right, what wrong, and why I think things wound up in the manner that they did.
Over the next few blog posts, I am going to explore a few things – who I see myself as, my relationship with the Gods, and why I find myself staring down a particular Path that I am totally unsure of. As I noted in a previous blog – Life continually changes. It is not how it changes that provides the measure of context and quality for me, but rather how I approach, handle and incorporate each change. And in some ways, some of these changes are about to place my feet on an old, and familiar Path….with different shoes on my feet, so to speak. And for this, I would like to document it openly…for whoever would like to read. Call it a measure of public self-accountability, if you like.