1) I can totally do/have/get/complete/achieve that thing.
2) There is no way I will ever do/have/get/complete/achieve that thing.
All too often, we live in the safe harbor of the #1 stuff and steer clear of even dreaming too much about the #2 stuff. Why? Maybe we are scared of failure. Of looking or feeling stupid. Of making a fool out of ourselves.Of putting ourselves out there only to find that we weren’t able to do that thing we so wanted. Of everyone else knowing what we already know: That we are imperfect, messy, confused, human.
So why even try, right?
This morning after I awoke but before I moved myself out of bed, I was thinking of this book project I am committed to working on. It is a project that has been in my life for at least 15 years (probably more) but that I have not been able to tackle or even face much over the years.
I now know its time has come, and that thrills me. Of course, it scares me too.
As I was thinking about it in bed, the Scared Me wanted to make sure I knew it was on the job:
“You’ve done all these great interviews, but how will they ever fit into your actual story?”
“You need a structure that draws people in. You can’t just drone on and on about your family life.”
“What is there is deep research that needs to be done? How will you do that? Where would you even start?”
“Since everyone else you are writing about is dead, what happens when you have questions with no answers?”
“You’ve been down this road before…why will this time be different?”
“Maybe you should shelf this, again, for a while. Work on something easier or more profitable!”
And so on….
I entertained these thoughts and questions. I allowed them to let themselves be known and to have their say. I also saw them for what they were. You may have your own word for it — Ego, Resistance, Fear — it’s all the same thing. It is trying to protect us and it isn’t going away.
But that is OK.
Because this time it is different.
I expect these doubts. I know they are coming. Heck, I sometimes even leave out the Welcome Mat for them. I am cool with them coming along for the ride (and even if I weren’t, they’d come along anyway).
Thinking they will magically disappear is folly.
The difference this time around is not in them. The difference is in me.
I am moving forward anyway. Despite them. With them. Because of them.
One step at a time: Today, I won’t write the whole proposal. Today, I won’t figure out the secret to the structure of the book. Today, the chapter outline won’t reveal its whole self. No, not today.
But today, I will interview someone who wrote his PhD dissertation on the very family issue I am writing about. Today, right after I post this to my blog, I will take an hour and allow my insides to tell me what I am to write for this book and I will write it. Today, I will go through one of the many boxes of memorabilia I have been saving in anticipation of this very time, the time when I was ready to move forward.
Today, I will not do it all or figure it all out.
Today, I may not have a lightening-bolt moment, but I also won’t be bullied by fear.
Today, I don’t need to see the whole picture.
Today I will do something.
Today, I will begin.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
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