Make Each Moment Paradise

My wife and I are in day three of our St. Thomas vacation and she decided to get her nails done in a little nail salon on the tourist strip in Red Hook and I decided to explore the area a bit.
I bought a baseball cap to shield my sunburned forehead, chatted with the shopkeeper and she offered me a seat on her, “husband couch” until my wife’s nails were done but I graciously declined.
Having seen all of the tourist shops I could bare (2) I simply stood outside in the blazing heat hoping I wouldn’t get charged with loitering. A baby iguana scurried right up to my feet and stared at me tilting his head. Right then I realized that I should make the most of this quiet moment. I decided to catch up on my email for a few minutes so I read James Altucher’s latest blog on minimalism and really connected with it.  

  
After I read his blog post I was inspired to write this one, and thought about how everything is connected. Each of our actions cause a ripple effect of which we’ll never know the full extent of. In a way each of us are a tiny epicenter.
Since studying the Tao Te Ching and trying to put its teachings into practice I’ve learned life is about surrendering to and making the most of each and every moment. Do I always remember to do this? No, but when I do life just flows better. A successful and joyful life is about learning the lessons, then teaching the lessons you learn in the subtlest most unobtrusive way possible. Most often the best way to teach is merely by example.
Sometimes the very best moments in life are completely spontaneous, so we must be prepared to be awake enough to notice when they arise. These moments can be triggered by a blog post or a baby iguana. Your guards must be down and your heart must be open.
So many people move to a beautiful place like Saint Thomas believing that living there will solve all of their problems. This much I have learned, paradise is not a place. Paradise is more like an attitude, it’s a state of being. You must begin by radiating happiness wherever your feet are currently planted. When you begin to do this your life will start to miraculously change for the better. 
I know this trip to St. Thomas is the first leg of the future my wife and I have dreamed about for years: traveling the world; writing; meeting interesting new people; learning; teaching; and loving. 
I have many more miles to put on these feet, many more beautiful places to visit and so much more to learn but paradise, I’ve already found.
~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~

Fire

May the itch

of wanting 

to know what’s

around each bend

always nag you

may your bearings

you never fail

to find,

and a pleasant calm

drift over you 

and usher tranquil sleep

each night ’till rise and shine

may your soul

always be 

at peace

when life takes 

you far from home,

may you follow 

in the footsteps 

of your Father

in whichever 

world you choose 

to roam

may you be wise enough

not be saddened

by the embers’ fading glow,

but have the wit 

to build your own fire 

whenever cold winds blow.
~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~

What If?

What if all that we’ve been taught is wrong?  

What if we live in a world

where vanity is a kind of virtue?
A place where confidence and

self-love are the first steps

in opening up your heart

to the miracle that exists

within you.
What if reality, as we know

it isn’t truth at all but its antithesis?
Comprised of falsehoods 

that serve all but the greater good, 

bars to keep us imprisoned 

so that we may never know 

the true power of our souls.
~Eric Vance Walton~

The Way (we’re supposed to be) 

These days, it seems

we engross ourselves 

in bucket lists,

and dream often

of the excitement 

of far off, distant places

 

we constantly seek escape 

from the mundane 

and dive deep 

into the blue glow 

of our screens

while ignoring our dreams

and the gift of life 

unfolding all around us
sometimes our peace

lurks in the familiar, 

the energy we feel 

from the person across the table, 

in the micro-expressions,

the slightest twitch of an eyelid

or that certain sarcastic smile
sometimes our answers 

are tucked away in the most 

comfortable of places,

where people know us deeply

but love us just the same

 

as I find myself 

in the full vigor 

of my middle years

I know in every 

cell of my being

that we must learn to 

love who we are,

to feel joy right

where we stand,

at this very moment.

 

and if we find 

we can’t do that, 

then something 

must drastically change.
~Eric Vance Walton~