It has been a long week. I was out of town in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington over the weekend and, of course, traveling doesn’t make keeping a routine any easier. I wrote a bit while I was away, but the trip made it challenging. I will blame the changing seasons and the nostalgia overload for my resistance in the past several days. Returning to the Bay Area, stepping out of the Oakland airport, I was immediately relieved by how warm it is here. Yes. The Fall I had been waiting for. Such a relief after the nipping cold that has already struck the Pacific Northwest.
I have returned to early alarms in the morning followed by 20 minutes of writing, but I have been dragging my feet. I got out of work today and was walking through the late afternoon sun across the parking lot thinking about writing and the resistance that is relentless inside of me at the moment. I’ve had trouble keeping my eyes open, my mind wanders, and I write things that don’t make any sense (not even to me). I am even having trouble revisiting anything I’ve written already long enough to edit. Soaking up the suns warmth, it dawned on me that I continuously have thoughts that I should be writing, I should be posting.
We all have a long list of “should’s” in our lives and it’s a fascinating thing that happens when you look at the difference between things that we are somehow obligated to do (or think we are) and those that we reward ourselves with. For me, writing is fun. I started without anyone asking me to and I continue to do so without any outside obligation. So why do I keep telling myself that I should write? That I should be posting to this blog?
I feel that I should because I want to be committed and act like a professional. You do not get proficient or good at a skill without dedication. If you practice any skill long enough, there comes a time when you feel resistance towards it. The number one reason most people do not master a skill is that they give up shortly after they have began.
This is a common theme for me, as well. I have a lot of interests and ideas, many of which I am excited about right out of the gate. However, give me a couple of days and it is possible I’ve forgotten about it completely. Or I’ll pretend I have to mask the embarrassment from lack of follow through. That being said, there are several things I am quite passionate about and have spent countless hours working on. A few of these would be bicycle touring and bike maintenance, reading and writing, painting and drawing, business and personal development. These passions have taken me on a cross-country bicycle tour, overseas to study art, and to multiple conferences to meet authors and entrepreneurs. This is to name a few benefits of follow through.
The experiences that I consider amongst my greatest accomplishments are the results of longer term projects where I endured the ebb and flow of inspiration and interest. Then comes the nagging “should”. I wish I could eliminate this word from my brain. It sucks the fun out of an activity like a vacuum pack seal. I’m annoyed just typing about it. We do not pursue things like surfing or painting or music because we should. We pursue our passions because we are inspired to do so, because we have no other choice, because it connects and flows out of us, when it wills it to be so.
So I feel forced to ask, but really it’s a simple question that surfaces in my mind: are there things we should do? I don’t really believe so. I would like to answer that we should be kind and we should take care of ourselves. However, I can’t help think of Byron Katie and follow up my answer with another question: is that true? Can we know it to be true that we should be kind? A question for another time and blog post.
Walking through the parking lot I realized that my resistance grows when I feel like I should be doing something. I am passionate about writing and about treating it like a professional practice. I want to be a proficient writer, therefore I want to work on writing everyday. Should I write? I do not know the answer to that question. I know only that when I say the inverse – I should not write – that my mind flips a little and reverts to thinking “What?! But I MUST write!” The thought of losing the practice, of foregoing the blog, of abandoning writing, is more painful than the irritation of the “should”. That being said, I tire of thinking I should anything and hope to slowly eradicate it from my mind.
Are there things you feel people are obligated to do? When do you tell yourself you should be doing something? How does it feel to have the opposite thought – that you should not be doing that thing? Would love to hear it: Lara@LaraBuelow.com
Looking at my goal list for the past year, I am most proud of 2 things. The first is that I committed to blogging each of my goals and this exercise made me realize that something I really enjoy is the writing itself. It feels satisfying that I have embraced the writing process and stuck with it over the last twelve months. Especially to simply relish the act of writing, without judging the end product. The second thing I am proud of this year is that I made several huge changes in my life and am still working hard to create the life I want to live. If that’s too vague for you: I am so happy that I moved to San Francisco and have been able to find rewarding work. I am incredibly grateful to be at San Francisco CrossFit and Suppenküche, two companies where I’ve met some of the most amazing people in my life.
These two things also translate into what I am most grateful over the last year. I am grateful for all the love and support I got from my family and friends. I am grateful for the people who offered me work and flexibility in my schedule, coworkers who helped me out, and both the constructive and positive feedback I’ve received from people in different areas of my life. I also appreciate California Sunshine, the ability to take vacations in far off places, and the wild adventurous opportunities that present themselves to me.
On Monday, I will turn 27 and my 27×27 year will be complete. Friends have been asking what 28×28 will look like, but I can’t say it looks very appealing. It isn’t edgy enough. It’s putting too many items on a list, it’s too arbitrary. I need something with a bit more gusto. I want an divine list, not one that induces guilt over an unchecked box. I thought about beginning a 3×30 or 30×30 project, as it’s dawning on me that a decade benchmark is approaching. It’s still in the cards. However, in an effort to distance myself from numbers and quantifying everything, I would like to experiment with living the next year in a quality-inspired manner.
So I am crafting a plan for living my next year of life using the Desire Map. I will use my core desired feelings as my compass and my 12 commandments as my guiding constitution. THIS SOUNDS SO CORNY. Cue Phil Collins, because that’s my JAM. Hopefully over the next 12 months I will be able to communicate all of this in a way that sounds more hardcore and less “floofy”. That’s the (non) word that comes to mind. But right now it’s all I’ve got.