How I Got Here
Here's a report on the process I went through in writing the revised and expanded edition of my book PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings (available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Powells.
For my next big writing project, I might have chosen to write a sequel to PRONOIA, the book I first published in 2005. But instead I opted to fatten up that first edition.
And it was a massive fattening. I added over 63,500 new words and 73 new illustrations. That's 55% additional material beyond what the first edition had -- the size of a whole new book. The new edition of PRONOIA is essentially two books crammed into one.
There are 2 extra chapters, 18 completely new pieces, plus 14 new Sacred Advertisements. Twenty-one of the original pieces of the book have been revised and expanded, as well.
So the revised and expanded version of PRONOIA is richer, meatier, and more concentrated. It's lusher and plusher, having benefited from the personal adventures that ramped up my understanding of pronoia these last few years, as well as from all the mojo that my readers blessed me with as they told me about their experiences with pronoia.
Now I'll say a bit about the personal adventures that ramped up my understanding of pronoia.
In the last few months of working on the original edition of PRONOIA back in 2005, I kept getting ever-more inquisitive telepathic messages from my future self. He said to me, in effect, "This is quite useful information you're setting down in your book, my young friend Rob, but are you . . . uh . . . shall we say . . . . truly ready to live your life by the fine and noble principles you are espousing?"
The truth is, I knew I wasn't completely ready, and I told my future self that. I knew that the whole project of me working on the book was a classic case of the teacher having to learn the very lessons he wanted to teach. Even though I'd spent years meditating on and experimenting with memes like crafty optimism, ingenious compassion, and the art and science of cultivating happiness, when the book came out in 2005 I was far from a master of any of that good stuff.
For example, I was still plagued by many of the usual personal fears that we're all tormented by; I still suffered from the bad habit of criticizing the world more than I praised it; I was still susceptible to the paranoid fantasies about civilization collapsing that are part of the air we all breathe.
The good news is that I really have made progress in the four years since the first edition of PRONOIA came out. I read my own book, practiced its recommendations, played with its riddles, and in response changed the way I thought and felt and lived.
And so, hallelujah, by the time I'd finished the revised and expanded edition of PRONOIA, I had developed significant new skills in creating happiness for myself. I have a more resilient and robust -- I almost want to say a more teasing and mischievous -- relationship with my fears, so that even if I feel them gnawing at my heart, I don't necessarily believe wholeheartedly in the visions they try to scare me with. That, to me, is a triumph.
Maybe most importantly, I had fully integrated into my emotional body one of the central ideas I articulate in PRONOIA. That idea is this: Civilization may be unraveling in a lot of areas; some of its structures may be collapsing; but it is also in the midst of a tremendous upheaval of creativity -- a flood of innovation and genius and love pouring out of millions upon millions of people -- a Great Awakening that is far louder and stronger and more interesting than the sleepy resignation and corrosive maliciousness and ignominious decline that the media prefers to focus on.
I still have a long way to go -- am maybe 78% practicing what I preach today, as compared to 57% when the 2005 edition of PRONOIA came out. But it feels good to be doing the work of getting more and more in alignment with my ideals.
To close this message, here's a word of encouragement. I really mean what I'm about to say, and am not just acting disingenuously humble: If an ex-cynic and angry rebel like me could figure out how to ripen into the ideas of pronoia, making them a part of my actual lived experience from day to day -- and without muffling my discernment or losing my appreciation for the inherent paradoxical nature of everything -- then I think pretty much anyone can.
© 1995-2013 -- Rob Brezsny. All rights reserved