Just do it! And if you don’t know what “it”is, just do something!

10 Oct

It’s the journey that’s important.

While talking to a friend the other night at dinner, the topic of this blog arose.  She hadn’t had a chance to read anything that I had written yet and she asked, “What are you writing about?”  I stumbled for an answer and spewed out something like, “Motherhood…our move to Minnesota.”

But, in all honesty, the answer is, “I don’t know.”  I can’t precisely label this as a blog about one thing or another.  My mind doesn’t segregate things into neat little compartments and it is difficult when, in life, people ask me to place myself, my work, or even my preferences into categories.  It is like having someone ask me what kind of music I like.  I like an eclectic mix of melodies and admit to listening to everything from The Lumineers to Kenny Wayne Shepherd to Katy Perry.  It just depends on the day and my mood.  I hate picking favorites.  I don’t have favorites.  It’s too exclusionary of all the other possibilities.

Later, in a conversation with that same friend, who, by the way, I hold nothing against for having asked me, “What are you writing about?” (she got me thinking, after all) was talking about a book that she is writing.  This will be her fourth!  She spoke about how, when she writes, the project shifts and turns and takes unexpected paths.   “Basically,” she said, “you need to just write to figure out what you are going to write about.”  Those words really resonated with me.

I thought even more about them after speaking with another friend a few nights ago.  I spoke to her about my reflections and aspirations: reflections on the closing of a chapter of my life here in Pennsylvania and aspirations of what I hope to accomplish once we get to Minnesota.  I am the type of person who has trouble resting or relaxing.  If my hands are ever idle, my mind is not and vice versa.  I must always be doing something, creating something, thinking about something, planning something.  Therefore, it can start to feel like there is always a pursuit.  I chase ideas, hopes, and dreams always knowing that even if I accomplish my goals, I will most likely never feel a sense of contentment.  Gears constantly grind in my head and it can feel suffocating when you know that you can’t bring every little morsel to fruition.  It’s as if you must do something, everything, all at once, but the overwhelming feeling of having so much to do, makes you do nothing at all.  This friend, very wisely, told me that perhaps it is not about accomplishing every single goal or succeeding with every creative thought that I have or even having an end product to show for my work.  Maybe it is simply about the journey along the way.

It is somewhat like a person on a diet trying to lose weight.  The end goals are slimming down and improving health, but simply sitting around and fantasizing about having a smaller waist line will get her nowhere.  And, just because this person runs her ass off on a treadmill on Day 1 of the diet does not mean that she will automatically fit in those skinny jeans on Day 2.  It takes time.  With time comes growth.  Along the way, the dieter might discover that she really loves running and it becomes an enjoyable part of her routine.  Something that never seemed like a possibility becomes a daily reality.  For an inspiring example of this, check out what my friend, Jen, has been writing about for the past few years.

These  friends have helped me to realize that sometimes it is okay to not be able to recognize or define exactly where it is that we are going in life.  So many people, understandably, live life knowing exactly what each day will bring…or so they think.  It is comforting, it is safe, it is the daily grind.  I have found that I just can’t do that.  Sure, I want security in knowing that my family will have a roof over our heads and good health and happiness with family and friends, but, ultimately, we are not in control of anything.  When we lose control, we feel helpless.  I am guilty of feeling that pressure to be in control of my life.  When I don’t feel that, I scramble to regain it.  But it is those times of facing the “unknown” and the “unexpected” when we grow the most and do things that we may have never done otherwise.

There is a tendency to halt ignition on a project because of fear of failure—Things aren’t quite perfect yet.  What if I can’t do it?  What if no one else appreciates what I do?  If I allow it, I can forever be that artist paralyzed by the blank canvas or the writer stifled by the empty page, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself out there and do it, and if you haven’t yet figured out what that “it” is yet, you have to at least do something.  You’ll figure out something along the way.  I know I’m hoping that I will.

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