Saturday, January 10, 2015

Katie: The Intimidation of the Blank Page (Or, Starting is the Hardest Part)

      It sits there, imposing, daunting, staring you down with its vast, blank emptiness. It’s the new page awaiting the essay, the picture your pencil is posed to draw but doesn’t know where to begin, the letter or email you keep intending to write, but cannot figure out where to start. And that is the crux of the problem; because starting is the hardest part. There are many reasons why humans have this inherent fear of beginning, but I think some of the main ones are the indecisiveness and the what-ifs. What if I fail? What if people don’t like it? What if its not as good as I wanted it to be, as I thought it could be? What if I'm not as good as I though I could be? But in the end, it all boils down to that primal motivator: fear.

       Now most of us will look at a page, an opportunity we hesitate to take, and think “Im not afraid” And then we come up with other reasons why we don’t start, like ‘I just don’t have time’, ‘I’m too tired’, ‘Im too stressed’ or ‘I’m not feeling inspired’. Which are all legitimate thing in life. Believe me; after the stress of the last few weeks/months in my life, I certainly understand being too tired or busy or stressed. But I also know that there will never be a time in your life where you not these things; there will never be a time when you are perfectly rested, in a zen-like state of peace, unburdened by the cares of the real world, and completely inspired with an unwavering sense of purpose and direction. It would be lovely to think that such a state exists – and if anyone out there finds it, please feel free to prove me wrong! – but in our practical life experience, it does not. And waiting for this Elysian state of existence to occur before we take on new challenges just means the world will pass us by.

       As I have been learning in my 8 months of marriage, you have to make time for the things that are important. You have to be intentional about life. About the things that matter. There are some things, like work and house cleaning and traffic, that we may see as arduous or a waste of time (well some of you out there might enjoy house cleaning… lets just say you wont find me hanging out in the cleaning/organizing section of pinterest), but we have to do them anyways. But the rest of our free time, its up to us to decide what we are going to do with it, and we cant just sit on our computers or in front of our tvs, playing games and watching shows waiting for life to happen. (Which I’m pretty sure is something my mom has been trying to get through my head my whole life). If we want to achieve anything new, to become more then what we are, to achieve even those secret dreams to don’t want to discuss because they seem to far away to ever catch, then we need to begin.  
       So how do we overcome the intimidation of the blank page? Or the mountain of school work between us and that degree? Or the extra pudge weighing us down around the middle as we contemplate that jog we've mapped out in our minds? We simply begin; we start, we put pen to paper or fingers to key board and write a few words, then a few more, and see where they take you. Even if you have to go back and rewrite the first thing on the page, starting is the hardest part. It’s a beginning, a foundation from which you can build, and starting gets you farther then you were before. 
       So put aside the self doubt and the fear and write those first few words, put pencil to paper and draw a line, then another – see where they go. The picture you end up with might be different than the one you had in mind when you started, but in the end you will have a picture where previously none existed. Take that run; put one foot in front of the other, and again, and again, until you cant anymore, or have reached your goal. And it might not be the goal you wanted, you may not get where you intended in the end, the picture or the story may not be what you originally envisioned. But you will get farther then where you were before you started.  And while your final destination may not have been your original goal, you might end up somewhere or with something completely unexpected and altogether more brilliant then you first planned or imagined. And all progress lends itself to more progress, no matter how small, it builds, and it does get easier over time. 
       I think more then anything I am writing this post to myself – you will notice my first post is about just starting, because that’s what I have been struggling with. But even that can be turned into a starting point; it doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be what you wanted it to be, sometimes its enough that it is a start. And once you start, there is no telling where you might end up!

“It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

(Lord of the Rings quote because A) Added epicness and B) I can - always include LotR when ever possible!)

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