Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a resurrected writing project – a task that is likely to continue for several months to come. Whenever I delve into a task as daunting as this one, I look to various sources of creative inspiration and motivation. I read more poetry and search through famous quotes. I jot down thoughts on tiny scraps of paper and send myself emails with snippets of ideas when I’m in church or at the gym or in the preschool parking lot. I stare at photographs a little longer and daydream a bit more.
I also read and re-read some of my favorite writers. Women like Anne Lamott and Shauna Neiquest and Brene Brown and other authors whose words and ideas on faith and spirituality and vulnerability and courage are both respected and admired. Reading and re-reading their words helps to get the creative juices flowing, cements ideas that had been fluid and unformed, and motivates me to sit my butt down and write.
But while these professionals at the top of their game certainly inspire and motivate, they also make it very clear to me that they are way UP THERE and I am way, way, way down here.
Like all experts, leaders, and veritable “success stories,” these people live out in a bigger circle UP THERE – one that is brilliant and sparkly and affirming. One where, I can only imagine, there is contingent of admirers, a steady stream of confidence, and a bountiful supply of matching wine glasses to boot.
Even though these sources of inspiration compel me to get moving, to write, to put it all out there, they also kind of paralyze me. Because I’m not in their elusive in-crowd. Not even close. And because they have the writing success that I want. So very badly. And because, Lord knows, I will never ever in a million years be in that bigger circle way UP THERE. Never.
So even though I want to write and need to write, I do everything but write. I wipe down the fridge shelves. I sort out the pantry. I surf the web and research possible vacation venues. I make a photo calendar on Snapfish. I check Facebook every few minutes.
And while, a clean fridge and an organized pantry make for a nicer kitchen, they don’t do much to help eliminate writing paralysis. And, let me tell you, Facebook is the absolutely LAST thing you should do when the hints of Frosted Window Syndrome are crawling in because, without fail, you will only notice the brighter and shinier bigger circles in all the status updates and photos.
We need the bigger circles UP THERE, of course. We need the examples and direction and inspiration and motivation that they can provide, but sometimes when I spend too much time looking at the bigger circles, they tend to cloud the view and make my own life seem duller and somehow less worthy. So, I suppose, the big question is: how do we look to the bigger circles UP THERE so that we can grow and learn, so that we can strive to do better and be better, without becoming paralyzed by insecurities and without losing sight of what is Real and True?
Well, like I wrote here, I think the balance lies in an attitude of “good enough” every once in a while along with a lot of compassion and patience and authenticity. And I also think the balance lies in looking to the bigger circles, while living in our inner circle – using the bigger circle UP THERE as a tool to learn and grow, but relying on our inner circle RIGHT HERE as a source of love and joy and satisfaction. Perhaps turning off Facebook every once in a while wouldn’t hurt either.
The bigger circles are filled with all those people who we aspire to be, who inspire us to move forward, who teach us about our craft. But our inner circles, those are the people who love us as we already are, who inspire us to be better versions of ourselves, who teach us about acceptance and forgiveness and unconditional love. For me, the bigger circle is filled with writers and faith leaders, artists and parenting experts, and just about anyone who purports to have the Answers. But my inner circle is filled with friends and family and relationships, people who remember the date of my wedding anniversary and call me on my birthday, the ones who know how I like my coffee (black with two packets of Equal) and know which church I go to, and just about anyone who is able to admit that they don’t have the Answers.
I want to find the balance, I need to find that balance.
So I have turned off Facebook. For a few hours. And I have put away the rabbit-eared books by my writing gurus. For a little while. And I am taking a break from looking to the bigger circle with a kind of desperate longing. For now. Instead of looking UP THERE, I will rest down here for a while.
I will gather nourishment not from the success that I long to achieve, but from the satisfaction that I have already received. I will remind myself that it is the sharing and connecting that matters – not the impressing and pretending. And I will rest in the safety of my inner circle tonight, while I watch the Wisconsin basketball game with my husband who is, for me, the center of it all. And in doing so, I hope to unlock the tentacles of inadequacy and never-enough, break free from the paralysis, and find the balance.
And I will write.
How do you balance looking to the bigger circles for inspiration and motivation, while living in your inner circles with joy and satisfaction?
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