Why You Should Stop Doing Everything You're Told.
When one has a seemingly endless case of writers block, there's really only one thing that one can do to start writing again: Start writing again.
I often wonder, wouldn't it be much easier to be miraculously made "ready" for whatever it is we are hoping to have thrust into our lives: a desire to work out more, inspiration to fill the pages of our journal with a daily gratitude list, willingness to somehow follow through on that to do list that's looking like it's got some carry-over from the '90s…simply to begin whatever aspect of our lives we have been relentlessly putting off. While we hope to someday, finally want to write every day, or start running on the treadmill more often, we instead must run on the treadmill first in order to have the desire subsequently follow.
More than I care to admit (though I will admit it, because that's what I do here…) I find myself at odds with this paradoxical equation for readiness. There are more than a handful of things I wake up wanting to do each day that somehow slip through my fingers, and no matter how many yoga studio apps or 7-minute-workout videos I download, no matter what plans I might make to run alongside my dog post-workday, I can't help that I feel much differently when the workday ends than I did when it began. That invigorating vigor I feel in the morning to run wildly and passionately toward each and every pursuit I've set my heart on is impossibly dimmer once the evening sun has fallen. I am left with 8+ hours of work behind me and multiple empty sachets of M&Ms riddling my messy desk, souvenirs from another day I've spent veggie-free and steadfast in my unwavering, unfaultering support of MARS Incorporated.
But ultimately, what is all the hold up about? Why can it really be so challenging to get moving again, to finally start pursuing whatever dream we've put off until we are "grown-ups" even though we are now old enough to watch our own children start to do the same? What will it take to get moving, to stop procrastinating, to simply begin?
I don't have an answer to that question. I struggle with having the desire to begin, the willingness to begin, and the tendency to fall back into silence again. I think many people battle these blocks in one way or another, and while I still don't know what it will take to get my ass to the gym on a regular basis, I am starting to discover what it is that has me putting my pen down much more often than I'd like to:
Listening to the voices that tell me "I can't." Or, better yet:
"No one is going to want to read that."
"Don't you think you should think twice about writing that story? It really could offend someone."
"Someone is going to say something negative and it's going to ruin your day. Just don't even write anything and you'll be fine."
Amidst the shrewd commentary, occasionally a quieter, smaller voice, will somehow win out:
F*ck those assholes. Write anyway.
If I am truly being wise, that is the voice I end up listening to.
During Rosh Hashanah services this morning, our Rabbi spoke about the importance of choosing which voices we listen to each day. Though I'm not convinced that my gym-allergy is going to be cured by choosing to listen to the voices that tell me to "feel the burn" (especially since I can't hear them…quite frankly, I think those voices have just given up entirely), I very much agree with this: there are many real people - not even fake in-the-head voices - that will gladly discourage us from following our most sacred dreams, simply because those people were too afraid to do what we are so boldly pursuing. And if we listen to those voices, how can we possibly take the first step? The universe summons us to begin something in order to become ready for that something, and not the other way around. In order to be ready, we must choose to listen to the voices the validate our deepest desires for our own lives.
Keep good voices around you, positive ones that will remind you that you're worth it, that you're talented, valuable and important in the times that you're most likely to forget it. Keep your dreams sacred and share them with those who have earned the divine privilege to be a sounding board for the ambitions you hold most dear.
Even if you wind up eating a few too many bags of M&Ms on the way there, find the voices that will lift you up as you tear open the next one and walk with you through the process. Maybe, just maybe, they will lift you up so high that you wind up finally going to the gym instead.