[written 3/21/15. published 3/31/16. I haven’t given up yet.]
I read the introduction to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird today.
It was funny. It was relate-able. It was inspiring. It made me long to write.
And it made me want to cry or vomit or throw myself in the river or shelve the book and turn on Criminal Minds or make some cookies or literally anything instead of actually writing. It made me want to write so badly that I immediately wanted to never write another word. She says that writing is about truth.
Sara Sherman, of Discovery Horse, tells me that life is about authenticity, about being truthful with yourself and others. This is my truth. I want to write. I want to be a writer.
And I hate that I want this. I hate it because it’s hard. I hate it because I have no right to want it. I hate it because it is an absolutely guaranteed way for me to fail over and over, feeding daily into my feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I hate that I’m only capable of writing when I finally decide to stop trying to write. I hate that any glimmer of goal or intention instantly destroys my ability.
Here I am again, in front of a notebook, pen in hand, tea cooling at my elbow, Pandora tuned to the Classical Favorites channel – trying this horrific, painful thing called writing. I want to let it go and move on to something less … agonizing. Less heartbreaking. Something that makes me feel less like an epic failure, less like a complete poser pretending to be talented and capable. I want to spend my time happily doing easy things. I want to rejoice in the things that come smoothly and painlessly. I want to lay effortlessly on the sofa with a bag of Cheetos in one hand and the remote in the other, staring vacantly at the screen as it tells me stories of mayhem and murder.
Here’s the catch–the god-damned, rage-inducing, mind-melting catch–the easy shit doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t even make me happiER. It makes me miserable to sit around all day doing exactly what I want. How fucking ridiculous is that?
Life is a massive troll. It’s one cosmic prank after another. It’s working frantically toward a goal only to realize after you’ve reached it that it wasn’t what you wanted or needed after all. It’s being sure that if you only go here or get that or learn this or find her or feel something … if you only … then it will be better. Then, this ache in your chest will subside and you’ll be able to relax long enough to appreciate all that you know you already have.
That’s not how it works. What you think you want isn’t what you actually want. What you actually want isn’t what you need. And what you need isn’t what you’re going to get.
I want to lounge and luxuriate in laughing abandon. I want to forget all my responsibilities and live freely. Only I don’t. I actually want to make big, powerful changes in this devastatingly broken world. I actually want to fix the world for all the good people. I actually want to build good people out of all the damaged, injured souls. I actually want to save the whole damned world from this mess we’ve created.
I need discipline and motivation and passion and patience and the ability to allow for the fact that it might be impossible for me to even know what I need because my human brain is so focused on what it wants. What I need is to let go and trust. What I need is to stop trying so damn hard while simultaneously putting in infinitely more effort.
So I open myself up to the nudges and whispers of the universe, of my spirit, of the divine leadership in which I don’t believe… and I end up here, with my notebook and pen and tea and William Tell Overture, in the one place where my focus and motivation and discipline and patience are sure to fail me.