On Jumping In and Making Splashes

Jumping In
Jumping In

I have been staring at a blank page for the past thirty minutes and I can’t figure out why. I’ve gotten up to get myself not one, but two cups of coffee. I’ve watched Heidi (Teddy’s goldfish) swim around his tank for a little while. I’ve watched Brock Stettman (Jackson’s gecko) sleep in his terrarium. I’ve checked Facebook for the millionth time. I’ve done a multitude of household chores, just about everything except writing anything.

Maybe the difficultly comes from lack of ideas? But I don’t think that is the reason. After a six week blogging break, the ideas are definitely there. Maybe I’m a little rusty after staying quiet here for so long? But I don’t think that that is it either since, though I haven’t been writing here, I have actually been working feverishly on other writing projects over the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the weather? Distractions? Not enough sleep last night?

I could come up with a million guesses as to why I’m having a hard time getting back into the writing groove, but when I strip away all the speculation and excuses, the real reason that I’m having difficulty writing is pretty basic: it’s because I’m scared.

Whether it is writing or parenting or lawyering or teaching or whatever-ing, I think that there is this innate human need to crave feedback. And not just any feedback, but positive feedback. We want to know that we are on the right track, that what we are doing isn’t just a fool’s errand, that we are actually doing good, maybe even making a difference. And after taking such a long break writing here, I want to jump back in with a splash, with something big, something SPECTACULAR. But here I am barely managing to dip a toe in because I’m too darn scared to jump in.

Last week, I handed over work that I have spent months – if not years – creating to some dear friends for feedback. And after the initial exhilaration wore off, I found myself covered with a dark cloud of doubt and fear. This thing that I care so much about, that I have worked so hard on is in the hands of beloved friends whom I love and respect and who love and respect me. There is no reason to be scared, and yet, I’m absolutely terrified. Forget spectacular, what if it’s not even any good? What if I’m not any good ?

One of the reasons that I love writing so much is that it mirrors Life in so many ways and represents some pretty universal truths. So many of us want to jump in the pool, maybe even make a SPLASH, but we’re too scared that the water might be cold or that we’ll get water up our nose and in our eyes or that others will think that our splash is too big or too small or too whatever. So we dip our toes in or sit on the chaise lounge and flip through a magazine or we slide in real gentle and quiet-like so that no one notices us. We want to be spectacular, but we are so darn scared that we won’t be that we just sit there. We stare at blank pages. We tell ourselves someday. We tell ourselves that SPECTACULAR is for other people, NOT for us.

But what I am learning is that sometimes just getting into the pool is pretty spectacular. Sometimes it’s okay to dip our toes in and take it slow. And sometimes it’s even okay to just rest on the side for a while, reading in a chaise lounge, watching and learning.

But then there are times when we just have to jump in with a big old cannonball or a spectacular belly flop and see what kind of splash we make. Because the water might be cold or we might get water up our nose, our the splash might be too big or too small or too whatever, but we can always get out and dry off and try it all over again.

And maybe that is what spectacular is really all about. Not the pretending and the wishing and the wondering, and not a desperate need for positive feedback at the expense of learning and growing, but the risk-taking and the advice-asking and the forever-trying.

Because there are a million opportunities to jump in, a million chances to try over again, and a million ways to be spectacular, regardless of what kind of splash we make.

 

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