Three weeks ago, I started a new job, which in part explains my hiatus from this blog, but not for the reasons that I might have expected. My biggest concern in accepting the position was whether I would have time—or make time—to write. Accordingly, I worried and pondered how to maintain balance and grow creatively.
“What do you write about?” a voice asked me. “Life,” I answered plainly. “I write about life.” “So, live your life—and you’ll have plenty to write about,” I heard in reply.
Live my life. Take the job and don’t worry about trying to be creative. I liked the sound of that, so I accepted the position with enthusiasm—and the promise of new stories to tell.
But my faith in this wisdom fluctuated, so I arranged for plenty of time before I started, determined to figure out how to maintain both balance and creative momentum. I crafted lists, developed schedules and plans. And I with detail and care, I planned the weekend before my first day of work.
But life intervened, interrupting all of my orchestrations and machinations.
My sister and nephew decided to visit over that weekend. Only after I excitedly arranged for them to come did I realize their visit would radically change my introspective and carefully controlled weekend plans. But fun and play, not to mention company, felt much more enticing than introspective walks and hours alone with my own thoughts.
Then on Sunday afternoon, a beloved family member died. In a moment, everything that had seemed so important turned out not to be all-important. Clearly, the universe thought little of my careful planning. I started my new job on three hours of sleep, with my heart in two places.
As I made arrangements to take time off during my first week of work, I wondered how I had ever imagined I had everything under control. Despite the clear guidance advising me simply to live my life, I had inserted my own plans, schedules, and neuroses into the picture.
Creativity and balance, however, have very little to do with plans and control. And life continuously teaches me that my own plans don’t work anyway. Having said that, I’ll admit that it’s easier to temper my inner control freak when I’m quiet, calm, and alone. But that week, I had little time or space for any of these.
Recognizing I had to find a different route through the week’s emotional highs and lows, I suspended my assumptions about how exactly I might do that. And without a plan, but with a few deep breaths, throughout all of the change, sorrow, excitement, and events of that week, I somehow maintained a sense of balance.
The truth is, the more I attempt to control conditions, circumstances, or events in my life, the less control I have. But when I let go of my need for control, the better I seem to handle life as it unfolds. Admittedly, I need periodic reminders to put things back into perspective.
As life now returns to a more normal-feeling routine, I laugh at myself for believing that I could plan and orchestrate the timing and flow of inspiration and creativity. Throughout all of my best-case and worst-case scenarios, I ignored a simple truth: I can’t not write. And in living my life and embracing all of its unpredictability, I know I’ll have an endless supply of stories to tell.
~ Dedicated with love to Diane.