I’m not doing so well with this 30 day writing without editing effort. Anna and I are on vacation, and leading up to it, I had so much work to do, I had to let the writing go. Then I got sick. Yeah. You know. Right when you’re starting your vacation your body decides to get revenge on you for the past 6 months of stress.
What is it about rest that seems to invite sickness? Why is that when you’ve been running non-stop, the second you stop, you start feeling the pain?
When I left my job almost two years ago, the first thing that happened was that I got sick. Then I threw out my back. Then I lost a lot of my motivation to build the software business. It turns out, I guess, that adrenaline (or whatever) can easily ignore one problem to draw energy toward another. Then, when it subsides, that other problem rears its ugly head. You just don’t notice your body decaying because you’re so focused on your work. You don’t notice your family falling apart because you’re so focused on (what you think is) providing for them.
It turns out that I do a lot of what I do because I feel pressured by other people or situations. Some part of me assumes that if I don’t write this email right now, the other person will think I’m unfit for the position I fill. Or that I can’t post this article because people will see that I’m not as good of a writer as I’d like to think. Or that my wife will leave me if I don’t make more money. Or…. You get the idea.
But all that external pressure really just hides something deeper and hidden. Somewhere inside of me there lies a doubt that I in fact should fill this position. Somewhere inside of me, I don’t think my writing is good enough. Somewhere inside of me, I value money more than myself. Sure, other people might think those same things. But let’s be honest – I don’t really care about other people that much. At least not in that fleshy, instinctual way. My default mode is selfish and self-serving. So when what Seth Godin calls my “lizard brain” kicks in and tells me to run, it’s not really because I think it’d be good for someone else; it’s because I think it would be good (read “safe”) for me.
Every morning, I wake up to the sound of Eisley playing in the other room. I go to her and see her huge smile. She’s playing, laughing, enjoying life. In that moment, I’m extremely happy, even if also very tired. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that I’m tired or sick or hungry. But then I think about the work I have to do for the day – particularly the work other people want me to do. Then, instead of playing with my daughter for a few minutes, I’m putting her in a swing. She doesn’t need more than 15 minutes of my time, but all that external pressure pushes me to do what I don’t want to do. And not only then am I failing myself (in that deep satisfaction that comes from being a father), I’m failing my daughter.
And all of this reveals how dishonest I am with myself. It betrays me.
But what do I do about it?
The only thing I know to do when I can’t seem to change something is to get honest about it – to use that external pressure as a strength. I think, in some ways, that’s what I’m trying to do with this blog. After all, I wouldn’t be writing right now if I hadn’t committed to 30 days of writing.