"Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance.
This second, we can sit down and do our work." -- Steve Pressfield, The War of Art
Late yesterday afternoon and into the evening, I noticed that I was uncharacteristically unsettled and unmotivated. I ate crummy tortilla chips for dinner and lay on the sofa watching endless episodes of Cougar Town. Yuk. I felt not only restless, but also rather worthless. The evening slipped into this surreal game of chess where I moved from couch to back porch with fresh air, and then returned to the stifling inside air and sofa.
Open hours lay before me and it was the perfect time to write and add a few more entries to my nearly finished compilation of daily meditations. Subliminally (and not so much so), the message I was avoiding crept into my consciousness: My writing is worthless. Quickly followed by, I am worthless. Byron Katie's (BK) first question of "The Work" ran through my mind saying, "Is that true?" Again, Yuk. Sometimes I get so tired of the questions and want them to stop. I encourage the judgmental voices to back off, but mainly I desire for this lethargy to end. I want to write. I want to finish my book and I am terrified of finishing it. It is a big part of me and if you don't like it then you won't like me. Again I hear BK say, "Is that true?" In some ways it is true, because, you see, my writing is me. It is my story, my heart, my soul. I feel exposed as I write and I feel more whole than almost any other place I know. I find in writing that ground of meaningful connection and if for only a moment, you connect with me, then you have seen me and I you.
I spent some time today with my coaching buddy working around the thought, My writing is a waste of time. Together we explored what I consider 'valuable' and what is a 'waste' for me. As we talked and wiggled the thoughts via BK style, themes came up. Overplayed ones and new ones. Old ones with fresh twists. Begrudgingly, I dove back into that familiar place where I decided that it's not my writing that is a waste of time, but rather I am the waste. It stems from old stories and while I hate to disparage my deceased mother or put the blame on her, it comes back to the messages I heard (whether they were delivered that way or not) that I had wasted her time. The story goes that my father was the one who wanted another baby. I've often wondered how my mother would have spent her time had she not had to care for me, "the baby," of the family. Did I keep her young or make her old? Did I enrich her life or did I waste her time? While I can never really know the truth of those questions, my guess is I probably did a little bit of both.
During the course of our exploration, my buddy and I landed on several themes that showed up for me while naming how I see "valuable." Words like flow, enjoyable and fun rose to the top. Restful, playful and engaging also made the top ten. Pondering (which is what I love to do most) seemed to encompass most of them. When I place a judgment (or value) on my writing, such as other people have to like it to be valuable or it needs to be published to be worth something, then I take away the flow and the enjoyable aspect. I start to perform for others rather than myself. I aim to please the ghosts of my past by projecting into the future. When the truth is I will never please anyone 100% of the time, including myself.
As we continued to do turnarounds, the last most surprising and enlightening one popped out of my mouth: Wasting time wastes me. When I lay on the couch and eat junk food while watching mindless TV, I am wasting myself. I can feel it in my body as the lethargy (not rest) seeps in. While my hunger scale says it's time to eat, I sense and know that what I'm ingesting is not satisfying. I turn on myself. I choose to not write or feel good. I become the waste that I fear I am. Isn't that fascinating?
The beauty of this coaching-type work is that once I landed on "Wasting time wastes me," I got pretty indignant and took the control back into my own hands. (Oh wait, I think it was there the whole time.) Nonetheless, my energy shifted, my motivation revved up and, voila, the words began to flow onto the page. The tables had been turned. Isn't that fascinating?!?