“Will you write something today?” my husband asked as I was walking out the door.
“I’m going to try” was my first answer but then I reconsidered: “Yes. I’m going to write something“.
My first reply answered a question he hadn’t actually asked.
“Will you write something good today?“, is what my brain had registered.
“Will you come home later and read me something I’ll like?”
Well, actually, that’s two questions he didn’t ask (and that my friend is the cause of so much discord in relationships- the vast gap between what is being said and what is being heard… but I digress).
Once I listened to his words accurately, I could answer without hesitation: “Yes. I’ll write something“. Because I knew without a doubt that I could turn on my phone, pair up my keyboard and type: S-O-M-E-T-H-I-N-G. Something.
Of course when I set out to write every Saturday at 10 am, while my daughter is enjoying her Capoeira class, I’m hoping for artistry. I’m hopinkg for a new puzzle solved: jumbled up thoughts that finally click to reveal new insights.
But all that I am responsible for is to sit down and write. The rest as they say is gravy. The act of writing is the measure of my success. That I write, defines me. What I write does not determine my worth.
At least that’s how it should be.
To believe this deep in my core takes practice. To tolerate mediocrity or even welcome it as a stepping stone towards mastery is counter intuitive.
Most of us overestimate God given talent.
Most of us underestimate hard work.
Talent amounts to nothing without Commitment. Determination. Consistency. The most successful are not necessarily the most talented. Surely they must have more luck? From the outside, it’s easy to make that assumption. But “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity” (Seneca)
Luck is never the major player.
The ones who make it work harder. They are more persistent. They procrastinate less. They don’t make excuses (or maybe they just make fewer). They set goals and do what they have to do, slowly but surely displacing the finish line further and further ahead so they can constantly progress. But it’s easier to chalk it up to luck. We can’t control luck. We CAN control what we do or do not do and who wants to think of oneself as a lazy or worse yet… a quitter. I’ve been both. Lead unfaithfully by my fear of failure.
Improvement over perfection has become my mantra.
I’ve learned that it’s easier to focus on the process because that’s what I can manage. Sometimes the results will be good and sometimes not. I need to accept that and keep on going. But my ego is not convinced by this new course of action.
My ego won’t give up without putting up a fight. It doesn’t care about the value of trying and getting better. It wants the big rewards. It craves accolades and recognition. Anything short of that and the ego is furious, vexed, and demands to hide out forever, mistaking desertion for safety.
The ego is fueled solely by emotions. It has no brains.
It’s as selfish as selfish goes. It sees all in black and white. It does not appreciate nuances. It is shortsighted, living moment to moment, with no care for the greater good in the long term. It is shallow, base, uninspired.
Ego is more immature even than a two year old. Yet we often hand it the reigns and let it control our life. Toddlers do better with loving discipline. Adults do too. And just as I must repeat the same thing over and over to my child, I can’t expect to have it all figured out on the first try.
I often tell my daughter that I am not here to do what she wants, I am here to do what’s best for her. Yet how many times have I given in to temptations that do not serve me? How many times have I consciously done what was not best for me? Too many times.
I get tired, or hungry, or both and forget about my aspirations, my ambitions and give in to my immediate desires. But that’s not the end of the world as my ego wants to persuade me. Because there’s the next minute, the next hour or the next day to try again.
Parenting my child has taught me that it’s okay to require frequent friendly reminders to stay on the right path. I don’t chide my daughter when she trips and falls over. I grab her hand, kiss her booboo and lovingly encourage her to continue exploring the world.
And so I must extend the same gentleness towards myself. When I stumble, I can pick myself up, dust myself off, kiss my own booboos and trudge on.
When I sit down to write, faithfully every Saturday, that is my victory. I am honoring a longing within my soul. I am digging through the layers of what makes me and what makes the world and how we coexist. I am looking for nuggets of truth, goodness and beauty. It is a meandering not a sprint. It is a journey with an unknown destination. Only my presence is required.
The scared toddler will always be within me. I acknowledge its existence yet I choose to lead the way.
Because as an adult, I know, something is better than nothing and I can always do…
Next week’s essay is titled “The girl who wished to be a boy”. Subscribe using the widget below and it will be waiting in your inbox once it’s published.