January 6th, 2018. Newark, NJ. 8:28 p.m.
It’s a whopping ten degrees here in the tri-state area, but the wind chill makes it feel like negative ten. I went outside once today and that was to get food for my hibernation. Out of nine days, today is my only day off. I had planned on being responsible with my time by calling my car insurance company, washing clothes, finding a way to lighten my suitcase, and most importantly, WRITING! Instead, I made a big breakfast, talked on the phone, and slept. Another perfectly good day wasted.
I woke up from my nap around 5:30 p.m. to a room bathed in darkness. I hate daylight savings when it steals the sun before the day is gone. Convinced that productivity for the day was hopeless, I phoned my best friend. “Why am I so lazy?” I chided aloud to her, as I rolled out of bed.
I usually blame fatigue for my inactivity, but isn’t everyone tired? How are other people staying productive? God knows I love to write, but sometimes it requires more energy than I have to give. My writing is sacred to me. Even after having this blog for over a year, it still takes courage to publish every post. It matters to me whether people think my writing is good or not. I do my best to deliver worthy material by trying to create the optimal environment to release my thoughts. But that’s not always possible. The perfect time or place is an illusion. If I believe otherwise, I’ll be waiting forever. I have to find my place in the chaos. We all do.
Part of my lack of consistent writing is legitimate physical exhaustion due to poor health choices and a crazy work schedule. However, the other side has to do with mindset. I burden my craft with the need to be flawless. If I don’t feel that my writing will be impeccable, I don’t bother. But creativity is like a child and requires much tending to and plenty of patience. A child who has just learned the alphabet is not expected to form coherent sentences. Yet they are encouraged to practice until they are able to sound out words and carry short conversations. I imagine that if children were (and many are) forced to perform above their ability through abuse, they would shut down and become inactive altogether.
If my writing is my baby, I’m afraid I’ve been a bit of an abusive mother. Or I’m just making this all up to validate my unadulterated laziness. I’m choosing to believe the former. Either way, we commonly make the mistake of pampering the dream and neglecting the process. There is no state of perfection, only constant progression. We are evolutionary beings and so are the things that we create. Inventions don’t just poof into existence when they’re thought of. They have to be put together, tested by trial and error, and developed. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new and see a piece of the world we didn’t behold yesterday.
We must give our passions room to breathe. If we suffocate our dreams with the pressures of measuring up, we will always feel unworthy and unfulfilled. There are people who have met their goals and still have a void because they spent too much time nurturing the dream and resenting the journey. Empty success is not the goal.
A year from now, I want to be able to look at my writing and be proud of my improvement. That will only come through relentless effort and caring enough about my craft to not let it fall by the wayside out of fear of what people might say. I have to decide what’s more important: what people think or giving them something to think about?
We each have a gift. Don’t tire it out by placing unrealistic demands on it. Treat it like a flower seed: plant it in rich soil, give it rain and let it bask in the sun. It may not be visible right away, but with consistent care, it will break through the soil.
Remember, a seed can’t become a flower without nourishment. Feed your dream.