:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

There was an error in this gadget

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beware the Double Negatives . . . (Becky)

Some people do things because they can’t not do them. Musicians can’t not play. Scientists can’t not research. I am not one of those people. I’m really good at doing nothing while admiring everything others do and pondering, “Why don’t I do that?”

I haven’t always been this person. When I lived near the ocean, I couldn’t not get in it. Cold, windy, big crashing waves . . . didn’t matter. I was there, I had to get wet. Body surfing, floating, lap swimming across the bay . . . whatever, as long as I was immersed in salty, sandy water. A peaceful powerfulness came over me as I took in the sounds, the smells, the feel, the taste of the ocean. My hair has the perfect texture and curl after a day in the ocean. My attitude positive, my outlook brighter, after a day at the ocean. But now, I sit and think about people who live near the ocean and wonder, “Why do I live in landlocked Iowa?”

I knew a guy once. Smart, funny, creative, had been places and done things. But he started thinking he was stuck in his life, so he became stuck in his life. He became negative and cynical and stopped doing things that he used to feel compelled to do. I thought to myself, I don’t want to be like him when I’m his age.

But now I’m his age. And I don’t really know what makes me happy. I don’t feel engaged in my life. Nothing compels me. I’m going through the motions. When I was in my early teens, my mom would not let me go to the college town about 15 miles away with my friends to see a movie. They had a theater with more than one screen and the movies were new releases. She said if I did all the exciting stuff in junior high, then there wouldn’t be anything to look forward to in high school. Surely that can’t be what’s happening? Have I already used up all my adventures?

So I thought maybe a creative outlet would pull me out of the numbness and parathesias I’d been experiencing. Quick, before frostbite sets in and I lose the extremities all together. That’s right, I need a creative outlet! I’ll write a %#!@$& 50,000 page novel in one month! Amy, what was that you wrote about making sure your goals are reasonable? Right, goal setting 101, realistic ones. I haven’t written in years, and yet I decide to go for the marathon of writing. As you may have guessed, I’m about 12,000 words, no 12,308 words, off track at this point.

Is it supposed to be this hard? It doesn’t really seem like 1,667 words a day is that unreasonable. Is it doing it every day that is difficult? Or is it the fact that I don’t feel compelled to do it that is the hard part? I want to be that person who can’t not write! Or can’t not do something! Anything! What drives me? What is my passion? When did life become a series of things I have to psych myself up for, hoping that once I get going, it won’t really seem so bad?

“If you think you don’t know what you want, remember, that’s just a story you’re telling yourself. Give yourself space to figure it out. You probably already know and you may even already be there.”

The above is a quote from none other than myself. It came in the mail today, addressed to me, in my handwriting. To remind me that I'm really doing OK. Good timing, as last night's musings were starting to sound pretty pathetic. The letter was a result of a mindfulness meditation class I took. At the last session we wrote ourselves a note and they’d drop it in the mail in about six months. It was a good reminder that if I’m always thinking about my next move, then I’m not living my life now. I tend to make things more complicated and overwhelming than they need to be. Break it down, Becky, keep it simple.

So I will keep writing and if I let go of whatever weird wall I've put up, I will start to feel transient moments of joy and a sense of accomplishment. And those moments will increase if I don't over-think things and develop crazy and convoluted expectations. What’s the alternative, really? Worst case scenario, I don’t get to 50,000 words but I’ve written more in the month of November than I did in “the aughts” or “the zeros” or “the nadas” or whatever the hell it was we called the last decade.

And when I am "finished," I will plan a trip to the ocean.


Tanner May (Tanya) said...

I wish I had something so awe inspiring to write for you. But, do know, I can't not stop reading this. I've read it four times. I read it this morning. Then I read it again before my nap, and then two times after my nap (for the record, I am not a nap person but today I couldn't not nap).

I wish for you an ocean of words and endless sandy grains of thoughts that make you feel the can do's and double positive positivity. You, Miss Becky, are one fabulous writer. I could only hope to put the pen to the paper so eloquent (and I know that should be eloquently, but I like the sound of the "nt" at the end of a thought I pretend I just said aloud). Anywoo....Keep not stopping writing sister.

patresa said...

oh becky. i relate to this on so very many different levels. i envy other people's passions, too. i know at least one person who can't not write, and i really admire that.

also, i'm way behind in nano.

i like it when the universe uses our own thoughts to guide us. sneaky trick, universe!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Wait, damn. Just realized my "can't not" is wrong! Damn double negatives. Becky that is NOT what I meant! :) Ok, rock on.

Katie said...

Becky! This is such a great post. I have such issues bottlenecking with words, I really admire people who can (or conciously try to) push past it with the trepidation but determination of an Everest climber. And I can totally identify with the loss of joy that comes from moving away from a place that so feeds your soul that you can't WAIT to get more. Iowa has its own subtle beauty but no one would mistake it for a body of salt water.

Best of luck with your word-a-thon. I can't wait to watch you rack up those words!!! Go get 'em!!

amy said...

I can deeply relate to this, Becky. I also wish to note that my reasonable goals I wrote about? Not exactly meeting those either. Which makes me think that my advice should be ignore my advice (and, clearly, Judith Beck's as well since she was the one who went there).

It is frustrating. Today I went out into the sunshine, walked a hard mile (in more way than physically hard). At the end of that mile, I thought: you know, Self, you really need to do this every day. This feels pretty good.

I really think your last paragraph about letting go of weird walls was perfect. PERFECT! So true, for the whole world of people who are in need of deep motivation--stop over-thinking (amen, girl) and just do it. THANKS, Becky!

(Also, Nano is hard, HARD. From my experiences with it, I think if you get more than 10,000 words written by mid-November, you are nothing short of a rock star. And you have around 12,000, which means you need a Grammy. Rock on, B!)

Wendy Jans said...

Becky, I just love your honesty and humility. It is so endearing! And I admire how proactive you are in your own self-improvement. How cool to get a perfectly-timed letter from yourself!
You WILL make it to the ocean as well as the proverbial ocean!

Steph said...

You know, I believe we were all wired for that one thing that we can't not do. I also believe that we have to make a conscious decision to find out what that one thing is and then to pursue it with the passion and vigor it deserves. I love how you said it and the honesty with which you said it. Very refreshing.
I think you gave us all a much-needed reminder, or you did that for me at least: "if I'm always thinking about my next move, then I'm not living my life now." OUCH. It's very easy to get caught up in what's next, sometimes I think because we KNOW it keeps us from dealing with what's in front of us in the moment!
You keep writing, and I can't wait to hear about your trip to the ocean!!!!!!