“On Becoming…a Published Author” by Rebekah Younger

As I sit here, at a beach resort in Oregon, listening to the seagulls and smelling the ocean breeze, I contemplate the between time, the state of becoming that is this present moment. I am in the Northwest to give book talks and workshops to promote my new book, Be, Awake, Create: Mindful Practices to Spark Creativity. With a few days to relax between events, I have time to reflect and write about the groundless-ness of my life as I become a newly published author.

Over the past three years, since I began the process of writing the book, my life has been defined by transition and loss. Roles I once saw as the basis of my identity no longer apply: wife, daughter, successful entrepreneur, car and home owner, able-bodied person, Maine or Bay Area resident. Indeed there is very little in my life that has not changed, parts of me falling away bit by bit. It has been painful, frightening, enlightening, humbling, challenging and freeing, sometimes all at the same time. I’ve experienced the impermanence of this life at a deeply visceral level. I know, without a doubt, that everything created will die, including me. No more blinders to this truth.

So who is left after the letting go? What is worth creating in this life if nothing lasts? These have been very real questions to explore. Thankfully, I have been through many transitional periods in my life before, though perhaps not as all-encompassing as this one feels today. I often joke that I am on Becky 6.0. I am not unique in this truth. We are all in transition. As I look more closely at my experience, I realize there is no clear moment when change begins or ends. I am always in a state of becoming, in a flux of dying and being born. So is everyone and everything around me.

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition refers to these as bardos “states of being”. They are traditionally taught as stages in the cycle of death and rebirth. Still, as described in Mingyur Rinpoche’s new book, In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey through the Bardos of Living and Dying, these moments of transition exist in our lives, as well as, in the process of death. They are “heightened opportunities for turning confusion into clarity” when we bring our awareness to them.

I think the bardo of becoming is particularly vivid to me right now. As a newly published author, my book provides a glimpse of my past to all my readers (potentially 1000’s of people). To be out in the world at that level is something new. As an introvert, to have my story so exposed is a bit scary. It invites interaction and commentary from total strangers. Still it is but a dream, a fabrication, a small slice of what occurred.

The whole notion of “branding” is about presenting a solid story of someone or something to the world. In the marketing of the book, I am packaged as a fixed identity to be sold through my words and those of the PR people publicizing the book. I must constantly remind myself that I am NOT my creation.

I find myself falling into assumptions about what a published author “should” be and expect to do, when I don’t really know. What identity am I presenting? What role do I want to play? What will sell? My competitive spirit wants the book to be a best seller. The desire for confirmation, honor and gain, is ego’s nasty trap. But, why did I invest so much of myself and my time in writing the book? It was not for the money. It was to offer an experience for people to wake up, connect with their world and create.

So, it is the heart connections with others who read the book and create from its inspiration that makes it worthwhile. My experiences of loss are then a gift; as they remind me to hold everything lightly and see it for what it truly is; a passing dream. There is no ground and that’s the good news. Instead there is a web of interconnections in flux. Build your own sand castles and perhaps you will get a glimpse of how they impact others before they are washed away. This fleeting impression of your life will be your gift to others in ways you may never know.

Rebekah Younger website