I had this t-shirt in high school, on it was a graphic of a guy’s face stretched and distorted in G-force. I can’t get that visual out of my head as I try and get this website (and a whole writing career) up and running. I keep bashing up against my own ignorance, and the pull of inertia, the status quo of my current life, seems just about insurmountable. I feel torn apart in my efforts to reach escape velocity.
Only moderately comforted by my brother’s words: “What made you think you’d be good at it? You’ve never done it before.” I christen my computer the great humiliator and continue to plunk away – more out of stubbornness than inspiration at this point. But it does provide a clear answer as to why people get stuck in ruts and aren’t following their passion; it’s really fucking hard.
Now I’m not whining (okay maybe a little), but I am just now starting to see how the pull of an old life can be just about impossible to break from. Aside from the psychological: daring to dream, risking failure, moving waaaaay out of your comfort zone; is the pragmatic: making room in your old life to build a new one, and a whole lot of things I put under the category of “Super, how exactly do I do that?”
With an absence of people around me who can actually answer that question I utilize some of the wise words of Highly Quotable Livia. This wonderful little lady could talk up a storm, but within that milieu were some precious gems – my favourite being: “The funny thing about people who don’t have a lot of friends…you get to know them and you understand why.” …but I digress. She once said to me, all triumphant from fixing her garage door, one thing she’d learned from her engineer husband: “If you look at something long enough, eventually you figure it out.”
So that’s what I do, I look, play around, explore what happens when I do something – often to very quickly undo something. And I’m starting to figure it out. One thing I’m figuring out is I need to learn me some HTML. But that’s cool, they’ve got classes for that, people who can answer the “super, how do I do that?” question. Gradually, I’m shaking off that deer in the headlights feeling I’ve been getting so much of lately. I know enough now to know what I don’t know, and that is a solvable problem.
The trick I think is in embracing a fundamental Taoist principle. Go Around. Water wears down stone by constantly just flowing around it. A tree breaks a rock, not by bashing up against it, but by finding a crack and working inside it – gently, persistently growing. So that’s what I’ve been doing, finding whatever thread I can and following it. Any small thing I can do, any problem I can actually solve, I do that. It may not be what’s bugging me, or what I think should be a priority, but it’s what I can do, so I find that crack and wiggle.
Persistence is the key. That tenacious part of my personality, the tendency to grab hold of something and not let go (which has the potential to make me a really great stalker or a video game addict), when appropriately channelled has been invaluable in this endeavor. So, infusing it with a whole lotta patience, I’m trying to harness that resource to help push me through the rough bits.
And it’s that commitment to what you’ve taken on – like keeping on the throttle even though you think the G-forces may just tear you apart – that will pull you away from where you’ve been and launch you into something you’ve never even imagined. It takes a lot of courage to push yourself out of your world, but breaking into a new orbit changes everything. And that’s pretty cool.
It’s tough work, and there will be a million things holding you down, but keep on pressing on. It matters. I’ll say to you what my Dad said to me when I was faltering and wondering if it was really worth it: “Don’t ever quit. Once you do you’ll be dead from the ass both ways.” It’s picturesque, and you’ll remember it. I certainly do.
You can follow the post script of this piece in: Escape Velocity – Orbit!
Or flash forward to see how I evolved from “the tendancy to grab hold of something and not let go” and learned to “hold on through the letting go.” a year later.