Ever get side tracked?
Veered off of course; far outside of the navigational beacons?
Maybe an unanticipated wind hit you on the 45 and you didn’t crab enough into it. Maybe you paused to look to the side and the wheel shifted with the direction of your gaze. By the time you’ve roused yourself into present moment awareness, you’re fifty knots south of course or three feet deep in a burrow ditch, and it’s too late for small corrections.
I’d like to take a moment and share a problem that I think many of us struggle with in our over-packed, over-scheduled lives. Distraction. A falling off of our horse. A monumental sidetrack.
I’ve spoken before about being true to your path and not straying from your destiny and the things you love. But life has a quirky way of making us look away. We all veer. We all must. Life is not a straight-line stretching out into infinity. It’s a curvy, succulent dance, filled with random peculiarities and delicious distractions. Honestly, we’re all really just one absent-minded neuron away from dog-and-squirrel level diversion.
Let me tell you a story. I’ll keep it brief.
Once upon a time a writer needed a break from her head. So overpacked and under inspired were her thoughts that she looked outside of her normal realm of expertise for a hobby that would balance her mind and body. She found something that she loved. She dabbled. She accelerated; one might say she began to excel.
The problem with acceleration and the momentum associated with skyrocketing off on a new and less-resistance riddle path is that in no time at all, you’ve soared hell-and-far from your home, and it becomes increasingly hard to slow your trajectory down. By the time this writer looked up and realized what had happened, she was soaring across the cosmos, her original pursuits long behind her. Worse, she realized she was tied into the obligations of a hobby that had become something different.
Something more akin to work.
She’d thrown her effort, her energy, her time and body in so wholeheartedly that nothing was left for her writing. She became tired; uninspired. The sidetrack, the hobby, had taken over. The horse dumped her in the ditch.
Awareness came as her child lay battling the flu on the couch next to her, with nowhere else she COULD be. She slowed down enough to read her writing group’s newsletter; something she hadn’t “had time for” in months. Because she was too engulfed in the everyday (some days every hour) demands of her ‘hobby’.
Glancing over the call for submissions she thought, “Wow, I remember when I used to submit. I just don’t have time for it. Wish I did.” (What did daddy alway say? If wishes were fishes, we’d all stink?)
The child snorted in the silent house and roused her into awareness of the present. To remind her that she was not truly bound to anything except that which she loves. And if she does not love it any more, the universe says (perhaps even demands) it’s okay to let it go. So our writer got a pencil and she numbered off ten promising leads. She reconnected the creative powerhouse in her brain, adjusted her heading, checked the map and 180’d her ship. She put a foot in the stirrup and hoisted her ass back into the saddle.
Now, after months of excuses and “too busy”, and “just until this next benchmark is met”, she’s at her laptop. Writing. And she doesn’t care if its good, or if it fits guidelines, or if it will be picked apart by whoever may be watching. Because she’s writing. Again. Like the first time.
My hobby took over. It sort of ransacked my life. I resisted and succumb, I got angry for submitting and resisted more. I felt guilty because I enjoy it still. I got mad for feeling guilty. Like a cat bouncing on the end of the leash, frantic to get away, feeling trapped and powerless against the ties, I forgot that I’ve got opposable thumbs, brains in my head, feet in my shoes. I can steer myself wherever I choose.
I’m choosing to turn back to the place I call home. To the page. To the work and the characters, the words and worlds and delicious dance of ideas and thought. Will I visit the other place again? Of course! Balance is balance. And I’ve learned too much to cast it aside completely. I’ll still dabble.
But it isn’t my home. It isn’t my story.
Some moments it feels like a long way back, and remembering my brain and fostering creativity will take some priming of the neural pumps. But even the longest journey starts with a single submission.