Archive

courage&fear

A couple of months ago I got an idea for a poem. It seemed to come out of nowhere – a moment of true inspiration! Suddenly everything seemed so clear. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, so I grabbed my pen and my notebook…and then, after writing just a few sentences, the feeling of clarity disappeared.

This happens to me quite often. I get inspired, and then I loose the feeling again. I have numerous notebooks filled with unfinished texts, an outbox full of half written emails, a devilish to-do-list that never ends and a head full of ideas that have never been given the chance to become more than just ideas.

I used to think that this was a part of who I was; that being chaotic, restless and unable to finish things was unconditionally connected to being me. But I’m slowly starting to realize that this is a myth. It’s a story I tell myself to feel more comfortable; If being unorganized and unable to finish stuff is my default -something buried deeply in the darkness of my genes – I can’t really be blamed for not getting things done.

Since January this year, I’ve been trying to meditate on a daily basis. It’s giving me a lot of epiphanies, and one of them came to me just a couple of days ago. I was listening to a speech given by the spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen. And all of a sudden I became aware of an important link between learning to meditate and learning to create.

Cohen was talking about the fact that meditation comes in two forms. Every once in a while you will close your eyes and fall spontaneously into a peaceful and empty place, being perfectly still and perfectly unattached to thoughts and feelings. But just as often (especially if you are a beginner) it will be a struggle. It will be hard work, using everything you have to let go of the distractions that arise in your head.

The main point of the speech was that the spontaneous road to meditation isn’t necessarily better or more important than the hard one. Experiencing effortless meditation feels great. But taking the hard way will teach you a lot about having a clear intention, making a real effort and eventually reaching your goals.

And this is where I realized that meditation and creation are closely related. Whenever I’m inspired, creating feels like the easiest thing in the world. But 9 out of 10 times it’s a struggle. And then I tend to put my ideas on hold. Just waiting for inspiration to show up again, instead of accepting that creativity is also about hard work.

I need to change my tactics. Inspiration is a blessing, and I absolutely love experiencing the bright and powerful moments where the sky seems to open and everything makes sense. But sometimes the most important thing is to get started. To make something happen. To take small steps.

So. For the next 40 days I will be writing a small passage of my poem every day. 40 x a little bit = a lot! And writing a few sentences is something I can do, no matter how uninspired I feel when I wake up.

And who knows what will happen as I walk down the bumpy road of everyday-writing: spontaneous inspiration might even show it’s face…

Putting yourself out there can be terrifying. Like starting this blog, for instance, it makes my heart beat 10 times faster than usual! What if people find what I write boring? Or stupid? ? Or naive? Or pretentious? What if it turns out I’m not good at what I’m doing. What if I make a fool of myself? What if I fail?

I’m tired of being afraid.

Fear has been keeping me from saying what I want to say and doing what I want to do for too long now. I’m ready to fight it! So I’m going to keep writing, even if I’m overwhelmed by insecurity, anxiety or doubt. And what is the worst thing that could possibly happen? I might stumble. I might fall. But if I do, I will just get up and keep going. Life is too short to spend precious time worrying about everything that could go wrong.

I find it helpful to remind myself that overcoming fear is something that everybody is struggling with. Here are some inspiring quotes from brilliant people who definitely did some work in this field:

Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain (Mark Twain)

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free (Jim Morrison)

I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage (Anaïs Nin)

Work only starts when the fear of doing nothing finally exceeds the fear of doing something badly (Alain de Botton)

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit (Aristoteles)

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them (Hannah Arendt)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover (Mark Twain)

The secret of happyness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage (Thucydides)