I recently read a book by Steven Pressfield called Do The Work that suggests we start before we’re ready. Start what, you ask? Well, anything. Writing a blog, for example.
I must admit that after a year of playing around with the idea of a blog, researching blogs, reading other people’s blogs, and doing everything but writing my own blog, I’m still not sure I can deliver an exciting, insightful, or adventurous read on a regular basis.
And yet, starting the blog was exactly what I needed to do to catapult myself out of the middle of things that don’t matter so much and land right in the midst of things that do.
Most of us are in the middle of something. Whether it be the middle of a thought, the middle of a sentence, the middle of a meeting, the middle of the year, the middle of an exercise program, or the middle of a midlife crisis, we really don’t like to be interrupted. Especially to attend to new projects requiring immense effort or the corralling of creative forces that could quite possibly matter even more than whatever we’re in the middle of.
Before opening my eyes in the morning I consider the possibility of something new. But then I step out of bed and am assaulted by fifteen things that ought to be done before going to the office, all equally pressing.
I convince myself there will be sufficient energy left over at the end of the day to fuel the new project. Sadly, the results are the same as when I expect snow peas to be left over from yesterday’s chicken with mixed vegetables. Energy and snow peas are in limited supply. Fatigue and baby corn, however, are endless.
And yet some things insist on finding their way.
Like the “overnight success” that follows forty years of perfecting a craft, one fine day our work will arrive fully formed on the scene after being imagined into existence in the odd moments between meetings, transporting people here and there, advising students, consoling friends, getting groceries, sorting laundry, and planning an escape.
Of course that day will arrive when we least expect it but in a moment when we are fully capable of meeting it and ushering it into the world. The key is not to hesitate.
There are just too many things to frighten the life out of us. Not because we haven’t experienced these things but because at this point in our lives, we have. We’re acutely aware of what we have to lose.
Strangely enough these are not the things that we might have been afraid of losing at an earlier age – money, sex appeal, a partner, our looks, the corner office. We can survive hits to our ego. The things we fear losing now have to do with our soul’s significance.
What if the dream we’ve been nurturing for all these years turns out to be a dud, a flop, failure, fiasco? What then?
When we’re younger we can blame our mistakes on inexperience, cockiness, or immaturity. We also believe we have time to recover.
But what happens if we fail at forty-four or fifty-five or sixty-seven? Shouldn’t we know better? How do we recover from mistakes at midlife?
My thought is that we simply begin again. Steven Pressfield’s is that we start before we’re ready. Buddha’s is that life is suffering. Yoda’s is there is no try, just do.
So whatever it might be that you’re hankering to breathe life into, perhaps today is the day to do so. In my experience sooner is better than later, given the snow pea situation.
Just don’t wait until you’re ready.
We both know that for this particular passion, you’re already as ready as you’ll ever be.