darling, just freaking do it
There’s that thing you want to do. You know the one. Maybe it’s a course you want to take (or make and sell online), a skill you want to learn, a place you want to go, a person you want to ask to dinner.
It’s the blog you haven’t started yet.
It’s the half-finished manuscript on your hard drive that you haven’t touched in six months.
It’s the saxophone that you almost – almost – learned to play.
It’s the martial arts studio or dance studio or yoga studio you always pass on the way home and never quite manage to check out – even though you’re curious.
You get where I’m going with this.
We talk ourselves out of the stuff that we really, really want to do.
We think we’re being sensible. We have our reasons. No time/ no money/ no talent/ no obvious pay-off in my career or my love life. Don’t want the commitment, the obligation, the responsibility. Don’t want the humiliation of being really sucky at something I’ve never done before. Don’t want the tedium of being a beginner. Don’t want to do something I can’t do well or perfectly.
We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid of success.
We had some traumatic saxophone/yoga/writing/puppet-making incident in early childhood.
Somebody told us — when we were too young to recognize how wrong they were, how full of absolute bullshit — that we are not creative.
That inner voice. So rational. The kind of voice that wears sensible shoes.
What if you listened closely to it, absorbed all the reasons, and went ahead and did it anyway? What if you let one shining reason for outweigh several reasons against?
As human beings we are slanted toward the negative: the lack, the absence, the potential dangers. We are primed to respond in a way that keeps us safe in our caves, away from predators that could eat us and high places we could stumble off of and enemies that could kill us (or force us into unflattering polyester).
The negative always trumps the positive. Always, always, always, unless you’ve got a Mary Poppins thing going on. It’s why you get twelve compliments and one critical remark – and guess which comment you find yourself stewing over five hours later. It’s why, to nurture and protect your relationship, you and your partner need five positive interactions for every negative interaction just to break even.
You will always find more reasons not to do something than to do it.
So listen to your curiosity instead. Your sense of play. Your longing for wonder.
You don’t have to commit to some ten-year drive toward excellence. You don’t have to see, right now, an obvious pay-off for your investment. Pay-offs aren’t always obvious. Take a step, an action, and you set off a series of minor changes that subtly alter the world around you. Keep taking steps, and who knows what those changes bring into your life. Where they will take you, or what window they will open onto some fabulous horizon, or how they will ultimately move your soul.
Do it, because not to do it is to die a tiny death.
Do it, because it moves you a little more deeply into the world.
Do it, because it helps you remember who you are.
Even if it doesn’t work out for you, the decision to embrace yes begins a new habit, a new method of response, a new adventure.
Small things have a way of adding up to leaps of beauty.
And that’s the kind of thing that makes a life.