“No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a strange, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” – Martha Graham
You may not be redefining the world of dance like Martha did (my own musically-induced gyrations have prompted people to ask if they should call 911), but there is a bit of habitual dissatisfaction in all of us.
And I think it’s awesome.
But I didn’t always feel that way.
When I was a kid, I thought being famous had to be the best job in the world: everyone taking your picture, clamoring for your autograph and hanging on your every word. Never a moment of insecurity or doubt about your self-worth or inherent awesomeness.
I remember my last night as a grade-schooler, unable to sleep as I pondered my upcoming first day on the big bad junior high campus. Instead of the same familiar pack of munchkins I’d been running with since kindergarten, I’d now be forced to meet an entire legion of new students.
And I was terrified.
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– Christopher Robin to Winnie The Pooh
As I kid, I loved the tales of a potbellied bear and his posse that included a tiny pig, a grumpy donkey and a boy who adored him. His innocence made me smile, and I could definitely relate to his insatiable sweet tooth (honey for him, anything chocolate for me).
But as an adult, I realize that the stories aren’t just cute, they are full of wisdom and comfort…two things I could certainly use right now.
Which is why I’m writing this today.
“I’m only human.”
I used to say that all the time. Usually when I was failing miserably at something and wanted to deflect any suggestion that I should step up my game.
“I can’t write a book. I’m too busy. “
“I can’t create a website. Technology hates me.”
“How am I supposed to eat a salad when a perfectly good pan of brownies is in grave danger of going stale?”
I’m only human.
But while those three little words provided me with a handy-dandy hall pass for avoidance, it always felt wrong. Like I was using my status as a mere mortal as an excuse to not rise higher. To achieve all that I knew I was capable of.
So, what’s wrong with declaring yourself to be human?
“You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.”
I’m not sure who originated that quote, but I’d always accepted it as true. After all, there are lots of ways to create more cash.
Invent something the world can’t live without.
Find a better job.
Have a garage sale.
Beg, borrow or steal (not highly recommended unless you want to stand on a street corner, pay interest or get arrested).
But there can’t possibly be a way to make more time, right?
When I left my last corporate job almost six years ago, I thought I had the trajectory of my writing career all figured out. I had dreamed of making films since college, so that was first on the list (to date, I’ve been fortunate to have written and produced two: Anniversary and Waiting For Goodbye). But beyond that, I figured I was destined to be a full-time freelancer. After all, what other option was there for a cube farm refugee with a knack for words?
I got a decent amount of work straight out of the gate. And that was partly due to the fact that I was so elated to no longer be starring in my own personal revival of Office Space, I would write about anyone or anything. From executive officer profiles and Facebook campaigns to video scripts for spray tan gadgets and robotic surgery, I took everything that came my way.
But after some time, I started to feel that something wasn’t right.
As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my craft. Tell better stories. Write more engaging posts. Develop films that truly move people.
But the fact is, it’s hard to improve your writing when you aren’t actually doing it.
So, the other thing I’m always looking for are surefire tips on how to get my ass moving when everything but the keyboard is calling for my attention.
And thanks to blogger Ali Luke’s wise words, I have found a method that works for me every time I use it.
It’s hugely scientific. You may want to take notes.
Ready? Here goes…
I wouldn’t normally glean advice from a fictional intergalactic pilot with a gargantuan hairball as a sidekick. But I’ll take wisdom wherever I find it.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Han – much to the horror of his shipmates – decides to shake off the Imperial fighters by flying straight into a shower of asteroids, reasoning that the enemy would be crazy to follow him.
But after being counseled by an anal retentive robot that “the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720:1,” Han replies with one of my favorite lines ever:
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.
The poem below was written back in the day, for my husband (then boyfriend), Paul. Not long out of the military, he was struggling with wanting to make something of himself. To be his own man, on his own terms…whatever that meant.
Unfortunately, quite a few people in his life were pretty sure they knew what those terms should be. And they weren’t shy about telling him.
Repeatedly. And at length.