It’s the last day of January and the snow and cold testify of winter’s presence. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy the relative sleepiness of the Finger Lakes in winter. Everyone slows down and stays at home more. I certainly do. This is when I read a lot, reflect on my life, make plans, practice piano, write, watch movies, and generally feed my soul.
In the hope of encouraging others to enjoy life, I want to share a few habits that help me every day.
I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Well, that’s just one book in my endless stack, but it brings me back to one question: What am I afraid of? Oh, lots of excuses crowd in and overwhelm me.
When it comes to creating, I am my own worst enemy. I can practice piano and improve, or wallow in dissatisfaction at the sound of my own playing and steer clear of the piano for weeks. As much as I hate to admit it, I went through several months of this toward the end of last year. Playing piano began to depress me and so I’d avoid it. Another major area of struggle is writing. I can work on writing poetry, songs, essays, and blog posts or I can convince myself I’m not gifted to write and who would want to read or listen to my words anyway. I worry my written voice or style is boring and that the topics I’m interested in will interest no one else. That I’m unable to produce anything worthwhile. That, basically, I’m a failure as a person.
This is probably the foundational fear: that I have nothing of worth to offer anyone. Then the downward spiral is complete and I’m caught in my own trap of negativity, procrastination and fear. So who wins? No one, unless you believe “the devil made me do it”. I stop creating and releasing and I wither inside. My usefulness as a person diminishes, both in my own estimation and, in practicality, toward the world in general.
Of course I know my way out of this is to just do it. Practice, write, share. Over and over. Have the worst piano practice sessions ever, but keep practicing. Write garbage for days, but don’t quit. And release some of the imperfect into the world, because it’s part of the imperfect me. The more I do it, the more motivated I am to continue, to progress, to be a creator living with, yet uncontrolled by, fear.
I’d love to hear what both scares and motivates you!