“Feeling lost can be powerful medicine because it loosens and frees who we truly are.” – Elizabeth Lindsey, National Geographic Explorer
I have felt blase about writing blog posts recently. Unmotivated. Uninspired. Uncertain.
I have continued to write, however. But nothing in the least bit blog-worthy. Mostly, the writing I have been doing is more stream of consciousness, get it off of the chest to avoid erupting like a volcano kind of writing.
The last few months, as I attempted to write for this blog, a million thoughts would stream in and out of my consciousness. These scattered ideas didn’t make much sense and left me tired. I felt many different emotions, usually boredom was at the top of the list. I had difficulty connecting to that which pulled my heart. There was no flow, no creative juices keeping me going, and no muse working her magic through me.
And then the worst part…the voice of the pain-in-the-ass inner critic would arrive, snarkily declaring that: No one wants to read this shit anyway. It IS boring. It lacks purpose and a point and maybe it is time to give it a rest for good and go DO something productive and more valuable with your time.
But yesterday, on a still and quiet morning, I wrote in my journal about this exact dilemma. I wrote about not knowing what I wanted to say and not having a sense of what others needed to hear. I wrote about my fledgling indecisiveness about my desire to write a blog in the first place…There are so many blogs out there, why would anyone be interested in this one? Have I anything left to write?
And that is when it dawned on me that this was precisely what my next post would be about…existing in the not-knowing, self-doubt, and murky waters of feeling directionless.
It also made me realize how similar writing and living are.
My writing was really mirroring what I had been feeling regarding my attempts at starting my own career as a life coach.
Both writing and living are scary and require vulnerability. Both take a leap of faith to keep going despite having no idea where we are actually heading. Both ask us to stop comparing ourselves to others because inevitably, there will be someone “better” than us. Both teach us that we will fail and embarrass ourselves from time to time. Both demand us to get on with it already and stop deliberating over Every. Single. Detail. And, lastly, both teach us that the best, most honest stuff comes from the heart, not the intellect.
One of my favorite bits of advice regarding writing and living comes from the beloved, comedic, and sagely author, Annie Lamott. In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, she shares a story about her brother as he struggled to write a report on birds. Feeling totally overwhelmed by the assignment, he sat and cried. His father walked over to him and offered this advice, “Bird by bird buddy, just take it bird by bird.”
I recall reading this around the time I graduated from college while having no earthly idea what I was going to do next. I found this simple phrase revolutionary. I was grateful to realize then that it was in the scope of normalcy, perfectly acceptable, and maybe even advisable, to not know where we are heading from time to time. I mean we never really know anyway. And this space of not knowing is sacred and fertile ground for growth and expansion.
Currently, as my writing has ebbed and not flowed the last few months, so too has my relationship to the idea of purpose and what I want to accomplish in life. I have been asking myself these questions: How can I best be there of for others? What does a meaningful career look like for me both as a stay-at-home mom and also as someone with a desire for meaningful work outside of the home? Am I doing enough? Am I living my life’s true purpose? And what is purpose exactly?
And then I got bored of my obsessive, meandering mind so I checked Facebook. Which quite honestly is not always a fruitful experience, but, gratefully, this time, it was. I came across a post from my friend and mentor, Michael Keenan. He had written:
I am here for a very specific purpose, and so are you.
What timing! I then asked him to elaborate.
He wrote back:
When I say “specific purpose” I am not thinking of it as something like being an astronaut, or writing a great novel (though it might certainly manifest itself in those ways). Conceptually, it is more about trajectory than destination.
I like Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s quote: “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
If the “purpose” of any plant is to thrive and grow towards the light, similarly, my purpose is to continually deepen my understanding of the nature of this existence. So far, all the evidence I have gathered to date leads me to one thing: Love.
Trajectory. Lessen the suffering of others. And, Love.
Focusing on trajectory rather than destination, and process rather than product, keeps us moving in the direction of that which we hold closest to our heart, that which keeps us alive, and that which we Love. Then everything we touch comes from a place of light, purity, and authenticity. But we have to keep writing no matter what. Even if we sometimes suck. And we have to keep living too, just remembering to relax, and take it bird by bird.