The Worst of Enemies

I wanted to share an epiphany I had this week. One that has to do with the battles we face. Trouble is (ironically), I’ve been fighting my own battle as to find the proper medium to share it. Mostly, because I wanted it to be short and sweet. A quick dose of pick-me-up and then gone. But Twitter only allows 160 characters and Facebook is chock full of random quizzes, shared videos, and daily updates about bad drivers so I didn’t want it to get lost in cyberspace. So back to the blog we go.

My moment of clarity came whilst I was standing on familiar terrain: warring over a crucial decision. And doing so with myself. There’s such a tendency to point fingers in life – to make it appear that we, ourselves, are without fault and the world is against us. In many ways, the world can be cruel, but the more I travel through this thing called ‘life’, I find the greatest enemy isn’t necessarily the Devil or any one person or circumstance: it’s me. If you’re a Type-A, insanely-driven perfectionist, you can relate. If you’re a Type-B, oftentimes procrastinator, you can also relate. And if you’re someone who isn’t sure of either, you too can relate. Basically, I feel like any one person can relate to being one’s own worst enemy.

This conclusion doesn’t sound practical. I feel we’d prefer not to believe we have an evil doppleganger somewhere inside of us. After all, that sounds crazy. However, I’d argue that we do. I’ve experienced it and I’m willing to bet that so many others have too. And he’s bigger and more in control than you think. The reason? He’s all about survival; reaction to situation. Not about living life, not about conquering new heights, and certainly not about victory.

There are several major projects I’m working towards – a novel, a short story compilation, a new website – so at times, I find myself becoming easily overwhelmed. And something inside me says, “Hey, it’s too much. Take a break.” And I do. And then a day, maybe two days later, I resent myself for taking that breather. So I gear up. I get going. And a week later, I’m further along. Then the voice returns and I’m back to being comfortable. Then, almost immediately after, I am defeated again. Ugh.

I’ve tried overcoming this internal enemy many times in my life, but only now – some 30 years later – am I getting a better handle on how to press through his advances. The secrets aren’t necessarily buried in well-written self-help books; no, I’ve found silent time to be the most life-giving. Quieting the mind is of utmost importance. It keeps distractions from becoming the focus and it keeps you from focusing on those distractions. I cringe when I hear people say they’re “so busy” all the time. Are you really? Or are you just really, really distracted? There is a difference. Consider if this applies to your life and take action against that.

As a writer, it’s so incredibly easy to get distracted. A new idea comes along and *ping*, it’s off to the races. But if the idea fizzles out and nothing gets done, then that feels like a failure. Then that voice comes back again. “You’ll never finish”; “Your ideas aren’t that good, try something else” – this is what can go through your head as a writer. More so than I’ve given credit to in the past, but I’m learning how to quiet that noise. How it’s me I’m fighting; not my next publication. A freeing and liberating feeling; one I’m slowly becoming more familiar with.

Oh, What Thoughts Awaken in the Early Morn’

There was a full moon the other night. That could be one reason as to why I’m feeling the way I do. My family – specifically those on my father’s side – find ourselves affected by the light of a full moon in strange ways. We aren’t secretly werewolves or some members of the occult; no, we just get a little antsy when there’s too much light in the room. Or too little.

I feel like a strange creature because I like the dark as much as I like the light. Some of my best work can happen in the dark while conversely, some of my best learning experiences can occur in the light of day. It’s a curious conundrum I find myself within. To think that in order for people to enjoy a good book or a good read, I must immerse myself in darkness; in secret; away from the world until that work is ready. If Edgar Allan Poe were still alive, I’m sure he’d agree. Only while others are asleep, I find myself awake. Conversely, when I prefer to sleep, others come awake themselves. What an interesting arrangement, this is – this whole light and dark business. Other writers and storytellers must find themselves in this same, ambiguous mess. I like the challenge, personally, even if the concept makes little sense to anyone else.

The one comfort I find in writing is that it reminds me of a common truth: I’m human. A being that indulges in darkness and light alike, or rather, dwells in both. The scientific term would be cathemeral (active in both night or day) but that description alone does not do the human condition justice. People often relate pain with dark times while joyful days are just that – days, but with light abounding. Why is this so? As a writer, I feel most invigorated in the early morning. When the world is still waking up for the day, I’m the most alive in thought. The light hasn’t fully reached me where I am, if you will. And when I feel the least inspired, the least likely to produce a good work, is the middle of a sunny day. How can that be so? Is it because I absorb the day so I can expunge what I’ve gathered at night? Something to consider, I suppose, if nothing else.

So this tightrope walk I’m on goes onward – drawn to the light on one end, but drawn to the dark just as much. And not because I desire dark times or eternal dusk; no, that isn’t it. I simply know where I must be if I am to work at my best. And it typically isn’t in the face of a hot sunbeam. Maybe one day I’ll adapt, but I’m curious if other authors or writers throughout history would agree. Or vehemently disagree. Either or, I’m intrigued to know the answer.

So here I am. It’s early morning; I’m immersed in my early morning thoughts, immersed in the unsteady nature that my thoughts bring, but excited at the possibility of what may occur should I tame these thoughts for proper application. And all the while, I am wondering when the sun will take hold of me again. For when it does, I’ll be thrust out of the dark room of my own understanding and thrown back into a world of new understandings – ones far beyond my foresight and well beyond my own making. Perhaps that way, when the dark returns, I will have had time to make right the chaos of these early morning voices. My thoughts will have been tamed in radiant sun; unable to hide away in the dark recesses of my own imagination. Oh, what a grand feeling that will be. And oh, what a great moment it’ll be for me to share. For the tasks I’ve completed in secret – or in darkness, if you will – will at last have the opportunity to be enjoyed by others. And in the light of day, no doubt.