Fear or Faith: My Choice

Can you keep a secret? The trainings in which I’ve been entrenched since before the pandemic’s shutdown began are coming to a welcome end and I find myself with a strange amount of time on my hands. But please. Let’s agree to keep this little admission between friends. I don’t want the universe catching wind of my twiddling thumbs because you know as well as I do that empty space loves to be filled. I’d like a chance to see what I do with all this spare time before that happens.

But I’m wondering…now that I have the chance to dive into all those ‘things’ I’ve always wanted to do but never had time for…what’s stopping me?

I’d like to blame the bout of ‘pandemic malaise’ I’m experiencing but to be truthful the malaise I’ve encountered on and off these past twelve months is fleeting. Maybe it has more to do with the weather, which has been unseasonably chilly and wet for mid-March in Northern California. Or maybe what looks like malaise on the outside is really, on the inside, indecision and fear.

Indecision I understand. I’ve always seen both sides of every coin. But why fear? What’s that about?

In a recent coaching conversation I wondered if the fear my client experienced was less about feeling unprepared for the tasks she needed to complete in order to move her project forward and more a fear of wasting time. It was easy for me to share that observation because that is where most of my fear is rooted. I’ve been alive longer than I have years left to live. I don’t want my time wasted. Besides, I need to earn my keep while my jiggly human form still takes up space on this planet. I need to draw a salary. Make money. Pay bills. I don’t have time for flights of fancy.

I wonder, though, if my excuse, “I don’t have time for that”, masks a harder truth. My interests, outside of teaching yoga, require focused attention. Commitment. Awareness of both my strengths and my weaknesses. They require a willingness to learn.

Yeah. Who has time for that? Especially if the final result is an amorphous unknown.

Another friend of mine is an artist. Seven or eight years ago, when we first met, she was learning to paint. Now she wins awards, exhibits regularly and is about to have her work published in two books.

I wonder if she felt her time was wasted while she was learning to turn a flat circle into a sphere? I wonder, when she first picked up a paint brush, if she even considered time?

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we give fear permission to stop us in our tracks? It can be fear of the unknown, fear of time wasted, fear of hard work or fear of financial insecurity. Or, in my case, all four.

Rather than giving fear carte blanche to run our lives, maybe it’s faith we need? 

So. Will turning my fears of the unknown into faith in myself lift the malaise? Will it help me find the motivation and momentum I need to make the transformation from someone who watches from the sidelines into someone who’s willing to take a chance on herself?

Good question. I can’t wait to find out.


Write as if No One is Reading

People don’t ask, “How’s the writing going?” the way they used to.  They probably know.  It’s been too long since I put fingers to keyboard for any sustained amount of time.

The advice we’re given is “treat writing like a job.”  In other words, show up, sit down and write.  That was easy for me to do when I was writing the manuscript now gathering dust on my bookshelf.  Three years ago, as I dived into research about World War II, the contributions of civilian women during wartime and Japanese internment camps, it was easy to set the alarm at five.  I was on a mission to complete a full-length novel.  Eighty-eight thousand words later the job was done.

I just don’t know if I’m on a mission any more.

I haven’t lost my love, only my drive.  Or maybe it’s not my drive.  Maybe it’s my vision – I can no longer see in my mind’s eye the writer I wanted to be in 2008.  The writer who craved commercial success has disappeared.

An old friend said to me last night, “Of course you’re not writing – these days you’re too busy living.” And then a few hours later a new friend said, “Write as if no one is reading.”  When I began to study the craft of writing that was my focus – writing for the potential reader with the conviction that one day the President of the United States would put a hardcover copy of my best seller in his summer vacation carry-on.  And now?  I think it’s time to begin writing for me – to color outside the lines a bit or maybe allow the flow of words to lead me down an unexpected path.

(Why does that make me feel uncomfortable?  What would happen if I did that?  What would I discover?)

With the counsel of those friends still sitting warmly in my heart I’m going to embark on a new writer’s path.  No matter what I read in all the “how to write” books I am not going to treat writing like a job.  The writing that I want to produce – the writing that nurtures or challenges or pulls at you – that  writing is not a job.

And so the dozen half-written essays on my desktop, the few short stories I began but never finished and the unfinished novel languishing in an electronic file – they’re all going to wait a while longer.  I’ve got to go live a little and then write about it as though no one is reading.