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.