As we move into the flurry and hurry of the holiday season, I am trying to avoid stress, to count my blessings, and to encourage myself to try new things without timidity.
That sounds very noble and–as we would say in my family–high-falutin’. In reality, I’m trying to stay calm and not freak out because the holiday season has caught me unprepared yet again. My plans for the fall went awry this year, and now time is tick-tick-ticking and my house isn’t clean and my Christmas decorations are a disorganized mess. Instead of being a serene work space, my office is piled with manuscripts, works-in-progress, drafts that need shredding and discarding, books, file folders, and lecture notes. My wi-fi router should be replaced as it is an infernal contraption inadequate for my house and the demands of my gadgets, yet it is connected and sort of working. A replacement means crawling under the desk and grappling with cables and passwords–not necessarily in that order. As for other technical issues, the adapters to connect my new campus laptop to the old home monitor remain baffling despite IT’s valiant efforts to explain, describe, and provide pictures of what to plug where. I will eventually conquer it, despite the temptation to moan and pretend I can’t possibly work while my equipment isn’t cooperating. And yet with all this going on, what I chiefly want to do is put up my space-themed Christmas tree because I have a new stealth-bomber ornament and assorted robots to add to it, and there just isn’t room to cram a tree into a home office already bursting at the seams.
Let’s move on to being grateful. I am! My blessings are many. But as I count them, I find my mind drifting from what I have accomplished this year to tasks not yet finished. There is a fine balance sometimes between the drive to achieve and greed for too much, between satisfaction with a job done well enough and laziness that allows procrastination to take root. I hope to stay balanced and remember that I have always been tremendously blessed. I have much to be grateful for. I have done a lot this year. Could I have produced more? Yes, but I needn’t beat myself up for the items on the list left undone.
As for being too timid to reach beyond my comfort zone, lately it’s become too easy to back away from the unknown and untried. When did I become so cautious? And why do I let myself stall at the unfamiliar? What is this new-found lack of confidence?
Several years ago, a dear friend introduced me to a little book called THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield. It is filled with homilies and encouragement for writers. It chiefly focuses on this very issue of being afraid to stretch. I need to hunt through my shelves for it and read it anew.
The big issue standing before me at present is that I have everything ready for publishing my latest book except hiring a cover artist. In the last year or two, finding a graphic designer specializing in this area has become a simple enough task. I have even picked out the individual I want to contact. Yet the force Pressfield calls “resistance” keeps me locked in place. Because this detail is so very important to me, I am stalling, wanting to get it exactly right. But I have to push myself forward, just as with each book I begin I have to push myself into typing the first word. At some point, it comes down to laying aside all excuses and hesitations and simply doing it.
So as Thanksgiving 2017 comes along, I am shifting my car radio to the Christmas music station, accepting that if I manage to put up one tree in the living room this year instead of a half-dozen in various themes it will be okay, and conquering procrastination to independently publish my projects before year’s end.
Tomorrow I will feast and give thanks for what I have. I hope all of you will be doing likewise with your families and friends. And may all your football teams do well.