“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mr. Emerson’s quote is famous for a reason. It really is an ideal way to see your existence. Adopting a viewpoint like his makes it easier to handle frustrations. To see great progress in small victories. To appreciate life as the weirdly wrapped gift that it is.
But I didn’t always feel this way.
A workout that consists of one push up. Reading 2 pages of a book. Writing 50 words.
Yes, those are actual daily goals.
And believe it or not, they can lead you to exercising for 30 minutes a day. Reading over 100 books a year. Or writing multiple books of your own, one after the other.
I’m talking about the concept of “mini habits.” And as ridiculous as it sounds, they actually do work.
We all have a back catalogue of things we regret doing or saying. And unfortunately, it’s all-too-available for us to use against ourselves when Life uses our self confidence as a piñata.
When we’re already low, our monkey minds go to town…blowing up minor missteps into irrefutable proof that we are complete idiots:
The time you choked during your presentation and forgot the name of your own company.
That stellar moment when you asked your co-worker when she was due. And she wasn’t pregnant.
The night where you had one (or three) too many at cousin Barb’s wedding and assaulted the dance floor with gyrations that looked like MC Hammer on peyote buttons.
One of my favorite things to do is encourage people. Especially those with long harbored creative dreams. Probably because they are usually the first ones to sell themselves short.
My mother was a beautiful poet. I still have one of her journals filled with some of the most touching verses I’ve ever read.
But she never shared her gift with the world. In fact, she once told me a long time ago that she had started a novel. But after 165 pages of hand written text, she stopped writing.
And tore it all up.
I was really hitting my stride.
Getting back to the novel that I had been dancing with for way too long. Ready to finally send out my first email newsletter for this blog. Talking to my partner Curt about the post-production progress of our short film Waiting for Goodbye.
Doors were opening. Things were shifting in a positive way. I was taking step after step toward being the writer I always wanted to be.
And then …
Today – okay, let’s be honest here – the past two weeks I have done a truly masterful job of avoiding the rewrite on my novel. Everything from the grocery store to the dust bunnies under the couch clamored for attention. Throw in the adoption of a new puppy and relatives popping in and out of Hotel Hughes as they toured the great state of Arizona, and voila. Word count: zero.
Today is one of those days where nothing is really working. And when that happens, I generally go to my impressive (or actually obscenely large) collection of self help books, CDs, downloads, widgets, gadgets and cards and pluck something that I think is going to help this self of mine get to feeling better.
So, what’s it gonna be? The charms-and-trinkets route? Put all my dreams in the manifestation bowl and wait for them to come true? Write all my grievances on a piece of paper and burn it to a crisp to release them to the heavens for perfect resolution? Meditate until all the wisdom of the Universe downloads into my head?
Right now, I feel like I’ve been drunk on so many different flavors of self help koolaid that I need to send myself to rehab. No more gurus, gadgets or therapies both mystical and practical. Cold turkey, baby.
“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain
I hate to admit it, but one of my worst habits is comparing myself to other writers…usually when I’m in the throes of fearing that I’m not good enough at what I do. Of course, this is wildly unproductive, and I know it. Constant comparison is a recipe for allowing the unholy trinity of Fear, Resistance and Doubt to barge into my psyche and send me scurrying off to Procrastionationville.
But worst of all, it takes all the fun out of writing.
When I sat down to write this first post, I’d thought that I was set on talking about the current state of my writing life. The novel whose characters seem to envelop me in a warm hug one moment, then kick me in the shins and run away screaming, refusing to cooperate like a flock of bratty toddlers the next. A recent and welcome return to my first love, screenwriting. And of course, the daily dance with Resistance.
But there was one topic that kept repeatedly elbowing its way to the front of the line, no matter how many times I ignored it.