That's what my work is about: putting the self back into do-it-your-self and self-help.
Have you ever had an epiphany? One of those awesome moments in which you transcend all of the bullshit and see what you need to be doing? And then for like a minute (or an hour or a day or even a week) you are able to stay in that zone, and life makes sense--you operate within a new framework of meaning and purpose and clarity. Magic ensues.
And then slowly you start to notice (or not notice) that awesome clarity slipping away. Before you know it, it's gone completely. You suddenly don't have access to the epiphany, or worse, you can't even remember what the epiphany was.
My epiphanies used to seem really random--I'd be walking, or doing dishes, knitting or having the rare deep conversation, and BOOM. Illumination. Enlightenment. And then as fast as it came, BOOM, gone. I became an epiphany addict: I started seeking epiphany through any means possible--through nature, yoga, and most extensively through the use of self-help books that promised some form of answers to my burning questions. Those moments started coming more often, but were just as fleeting.
Frustration started to build, and I constantly felt as if I were missing something. These ideas would come, and I would have an intellectual understanding of them, but they just wouldn't stick. Maybe I wasn't disciplined enough. Maybe I wasn't reading the right books. Or maybe I didn't understand the thing I was really after.
Meanwhile, as I was becoming a bonafide self-help junkie, I was also trying to make a living as a maker, which presented it's own set of existential issues. I felt a growing disconnect between my desire to do the big, bright work of understanding and healing my self, and my desire to do the more confusing work of understanding the things I was making. I had a huge problem with how first-world my problems were, and that they still felt like very real problems. So I downplayed them and kept following in my own footsteps, ultimately creating a very comfortable circular path in which I could just cycle around, from breakthrough to breakdown, with alarming regularity.
I realize that I was putting a lot of stock into the idea that "reading a book" or "thinking about something a bunch" or "having epiphanies" or even just meditating was the work I needed to be doing. But self-help, awareness practice, meditation (any kind of therapy, really) isn't the actual work--it's just the way we start to understand on a deep level what the work is. I believe that the real work is in making and doing under the pretense of ritual and ceremony. And I believe that the way to make the epiphanies stick is to approach our making and doing with awareness and intention.