Monday, July 06, 2009

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Two of my friends are creating vision boards. Scratch that. One of my friends is creating a vision board, the other one, Pen, is creating a portable, 2-dimensional visualization tool. Pen rejects The Secret even though she recognizes the possible superficial overlap of her current theories—thus, the terminology becomes important.

For those of you who are now scratching your heads in confusion—you are not alone. From what I understand, the board includes pictures, notes, articles, etc that represent things you need and want for each aspect of your life. Apparently, for The Secret followers, this helps you articulate what you want, gives you an idea of the path to achieve it, and puts it out into the universe. I'm not exactly sure what the universe does with it. For me, the universe would crumple it up into a little ball, spit on it and then stomp on it. I sincerely hope my friend has better luck.

For the non-Secret devotees, the visualization board serves as not only a way to articulate what you want and need, but, recognizing that the universe is at best an indifferent bastard, it also acts as a reminder—it's a goal board… a motivational tool…some sort of slightly non-aggressive accountability tool.

In other words, I think they are supposed to do the same thing.

I have to tell you: I'm completely fascinated by the idea. Sure, I have a slight concern that my visualization tool will end up looking like some sort of deranged George Clooney altar, but if it looks like it might be working for either one of them in any way, I'm in. Beyond the success or failure rate of these boards, I think part of my fascination is focused on these practitioners of the dark arts of hopefulness and planning. These women couldn't be more different, and yet they are both whole-heartedly embracing this technique.

Oh, and one other thing they are embracing: the idea that I too should join their ranks and start cutting up some magazines.


I did read that article about a woman who visualized a particular number (I don't remember what it was. Let's say it was 127 million). She put it on paper and put the paper under her pillow. She meditated on it. She thought about it all the time. And then she won $127 million in the lottery. It's a good story. I like this story. But let's face it, if obsessing over something made it a reality, we all know my life would look a hell of a lot different right now.

My natural proclivity to disparage all signs of positivity is not my only issue… it's not even the biggest issue. No, my primary issue remains my inability to answer the simple question, "What do you want?"

There's a certain amusement factor inherent in my inability to answer this question. Why? I used to ask this question of The Ex all the time when we were faced with complicated relationship conundrums. Invariably, he'd respond with "Why does it rest with me?" To which I always replied, "Because I know what I want." How perverse is it that I can no longer even begin to answer this question? I'm now so divorced from myself that I have no idea.

My vision board is empty.

Pen, being a Life Coach, took a pragmatic approach and present me with some completely reasonable questions. It went something like this:

Pen: "Do you want a house? Everyone in LA wants a house."

Kate: "Eh"

Pen: "Eh, is not an answer. Eh, is more of an 'I'm secretly reading Twitter and not pay attention to you because I'm in avoidance mode."

Kate: "Completely untrue" [closing out of Twitter] "Fine. The theory of a house is fine. But I have neither the inclination nor the skill to actually care for one. I also do not appear to have unlimited funds to hire staff to do it for me. Also, I'd like to point out that, technically, the bank would own the house."

Pen: "What about travel? You used to travel."

Kate: "Has teleportation been invented yet?"

Pen: "Not to my knowledge."

Kate: "Probably going to nix travel then."

Pen (admittedly laughing at this point): "Fame?"

Kate: "Ha! Yes. But Fame costs. And right here is where you start paying. In sweat."

Pen: "A shocking no!"

Kate: "Yes, it's what every hermit secretly craves—to be followed around by people with cameras and access to the internet."

Pen: "Scratch that one off. How about a new job?"

Kate: "Now we're talking!"

Pen: "What would you like to do if you could have any job in the world?"

Kate: "No idea."

Pen: "Well, your portable 2-dimensional visualization tool can't just be full of photos of George Clooney."

Kate: "Why not?"

Pen: "Because dating him is a completely unrealistic goal."

Kate: "So is owning a house in LA, but that made the list."

And then she gave me what looked suspiciously like the stink eye last seen on my high school gym teacher.

Kate: "What?"

For nearly 30 minutes I thought about what I would really want (that was also something I could work towards and achieve) and the board is still empty. I do the job I do because I'm good at it, and it pays well. I have obligations. I have responsibilities and no desire to take on more. I have commitments. These things I understand. But "want"? "Want" I'm not good at. "Want" is a specimen I circle cautiously and with great suspicion.


danielletbd said...

Well now if you had $127 million, then you'd be able to have the house in LA AND the support staff to cook, clean, and drive for you (hell you could even get someone to do up a wing of the house to look like another city or island paradise so it's like you traveled without having to step foot on a plane!). So I think you CAN visualize, you just need to be unafraid to do so really, really largely and even somewhat unrealistically. Like put George up there but know that you probably won't get him but instead what he represents (maybe you'll start dating another eligible bachelor actor-- or maybe just a cad who picks up waitresses and the occassional alleged hooker).

I don't believe in The Secret, but I've never had a problem making goal collages or goal lists or whatever to look at all of the pretty things I want to achieve and feel good about my future. The problem is, it's really easy to get distracted by the pictures (much like you get distracted by Twitter!) and daydream about what your life would be like IF you had such things, rather than to use the images as a reminder that you're working towards something and you need to work harder.

The universe doesn't care about individual people. Sometimes I'm not even sure it cares about us as a race. So therefore it won't hand us anything and I think Pen had the right idea.

Karen said...

LOL! Ok, so I have a board, it's a daily reminder for me. I am indifferent to the Secret, but I am an eternal optimist and therefore puts everything out every time :D

Penny Lope said...

No board.

No Secret lurking anywhere around here.

And I don't think I'd want 127 million. Money does funny things to people; most of us can handle poverty with dignity and grace, but few can handle riches with the same.

That being said, a little world peace would be nice. But I think I recall that wish going completely awry when Mulder tried it.

Maybe.....Do you think I could make myself 29 again? And skinny?

<----runs off to find pictures

I'll let you know if it works.

Dee Murray said...

When Jim Carrey started acting, he wrote himself a check for $20M and put it in his wallet. He said he wanted to be able to cash it in X number of years. And he did! I think it's about the physicality of the board, check, whatever...some people need that. Sometimes you just need to say it out loud to put it in front of you. Sometimes its just a very clear picture. But you're right: first you have to figure out what you want before you can go after it or elicit any kind of change at all.

Penelope said...

First, it isn't a "tool" it's a device. Please use the terminology correctly as I'm trademarking it for my self-help book. :) I am in complete agreement with Danielle regarding Clooney as a representation of the kind of guy you'd like to date--albeit, a somewhat less experienced man would be preferable for you! Also, just because owning a house isn't realistic now, doesn't mean it can't be your goal. It wouldn't really be a goal if it were something you were capable of achieving today. The whole point of goals being that you will grow and, brace yourself, change. The growth enables you to accomplish your goal. You won't get everything you want and what you want will change along the way, but you will be moving toward something. And moving forward beats just treading water and watching the years go by.

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