(Not) Getting it Done

Holy crap and other expletives!

I’m not writing, and I.. cannot.. deal. I thought I was ok a couple hours ago when I was organizing my desk, doing my usual bower-bird routine of making sure everything was exactly where I want it, which will of course change tomorrow. I thought I was ok several hours ago when I woke and meditated over coffee, and I thought I was ok an hour ago when I poured myself the second cup of coffee for the day, what I hoped would be the last moment of prep before the writing commenced, and I thought I was ok when coffee became a bag of blueberries and some pecans from my desk drawer. Then I thought I was ok while I was on Facebook looking through my notifications, responding to stuff. But I could feel the tension building and now I am most… definitely… not ok.

blankscreen
the blank screen of death

And now I am staring at the screen at the seven draft posts that have accrued over the last week, and I cannot figure out how to continue any of them. My shoulders and neck are tense, and I am moving around a lot, scratching my hands, cracking my neck, etcetera. But, other than the usual gestures of tension, I am paralyzed.

I think I am calmer about this than I used to be; after all I am actually sitting here writing to all of you about it instead of crying to my life coach via endless text messages. If I can claim any sense of calm in this moment, it is certainly the fruit of the time I have spent with myself – time I have spent with my heart, making a point of loving myself. And yet, right now I continue to avoid myself. The habitual tendency to push forward with a plan despite the reality that’s staring me in the face: I am not present.

When my plan stops working, I tend to blame myself. But the plan itself sets me up for the inevitable distraction. I get this idea of what I’m supposed to do, and then I am not present anymore. I become fixated on getting it done, whatever it is. I get stuck on writing a decent blog post, instead of just opening up and communicating what comes to me in the moment. I want to be sure that what I write is understandable and accurate, but while I’m worrying about what I should write, I don’t actually get any writing done at all. And while I’m stuck on some idea of how things should be, that is that I should write a post, and it should be this way or that way, and I should churn out a a post today or tomorrow, I am completely at the mercy of whatever distraction happens to come along. And my brain can come up with lots of distractions.

Let’s be fair, ok? My brain is trying to be helpful. I have this idea of what should happen and my brain is trying to help me come up with ways to make that happen. Meanwhile, it’s also trying to come up with ways to manage the stress that I am having because of the thing that isn’t actually happening. But the brain can only suggest things it already knows. It can’t come up with new ideas. Insights, creativity, come from a deeper well within the heart. Opening the heart is the key to communication; it’s the key to creativity. And also, while the brain is trying to come up with ways to deal with the situation, including the stress, the brain is also ironically putting more stress on the system. The brain’s response system evolved as a way to deal with dangerous situations, like a saber-tooth tiger or something in the jungle. My blog is not the jungle, and you, lovely readers, last I checked, are not tigers ready to devour me for using the wrong adjective.

So, yeah, things have to get done, right? But does creative work happen while I’m tensed up trying to make it happen? Does it happen while I am stuck on what it should be like, or when it should happen? No. I have to stop, and I have to take a moment to be with myself. I have to take the time to open my heart.

***

I’m back from retreat! I actually had fun. It was wonderful to have so much space and time to practice, and it was sometimes challenging to have so much space and time. It was certainly challenging to be without my usual distractions – Facebook, iPhone, etcetera. Anyway, all in all, it was an experience I highly recommend. Spending so much time in practice really deepened the understanding I have of why spiritual practice is so important, and of how helpful it can be. Now that I am back, I feel a renewed motivation to put meditation first in my life simply because the influence it has on the rest of my life is transformative.

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