I’ve had a pit in my stomach since winter began. It’s been an intense sprint to finish a bunch of projects I’m juggling at once. Since my bout with burnout, I’ve been pretty careful about keeping my workload reasonable, but sometimes projects line up for a perfect storm.
I’m sprinting to finish line edits for my book, so I can start the new year with a focus entirely on the illustrations and publishing prep. I’ve also been working with my friendto finish the final touches on a new self-paced drawing course, Drawing for Writers. And I’ve been working hard on finishing features for a project in part-time startup gig by January. On top of all that, I’ve continued to publish this newsletter on a weekly cadence.
I’m enjoying all of these projects. I’m really proud of the pieces I’ve been publishing in this newsletter, and all the progress I’ve made on the other projects. I’m excited to see the fruit of my efforts come to life.
But it’s a lot to handle all at once. It’s taking all of my polymath-in-practice learnings to stay afloat, and all my inner growth work to stay sane.
I keep telling myself, When this project is done, I’ll finally be able to breathe.
I keep waiting to get to the other side.
But another part of me, the part that’s built on wisdom rather than knowledge, knows that the other side will not bring long-lasting relief.
A project will finish, then another will inevitably come.
A milestone will pass, then another will appear ahead.
There is always another thing.
If we wait for life to be perfectly still, we’ll spend our whole life waiting.
And most of us wouldn’t want a life of perfect stillness, anyway. We enjoy the activity, the motion, the movement. Variety is the spice of life. We want to experience life, not simply watch it go by in perfect stillness.
The problem is not our desire to do. It’s our need to control that gets us into trouble.
We want to know exactly how it’s all going to go. But the more we try to control our lives, the more we suffer.
We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It’s also what makes us afraid. —Pema Chödrön
We cannot control the chaos of life. But we can learn to embrace uncertainty.
Life is naturally chaotic. And so are we. But we tend to forget our own nature.
We try to domesticate ourselves. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are meant to be caged, controlled and perfectly predictable.
As I write this, my mind drifts to Bodah the boulder, who appeared to me in the form of a short story. Bodah reminds me to embrace the bumps like a rolling boulder, rather than waiting to be still like a stone.
Life isn’t meant to be spent waiting for a smooth ride. As my friend Dave likes to say: The friction is the living.
What if we looked at life not as a mission to avoid the bumps, but a challenge to embrace them? What if we followed the turbulent paths, rather than evading them? Where would they lead?
In the end, we may look back and realize that the those weren’t bumps on the road. The bumps are the road.
May we all find a way to smile and enjoy this rolling ride of life. We never know which bump will be our last.
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I have been thinking about this a lot in terms of relationships. I own a small creative business with staff, and lately find myself fantasizing about shedding it and becoming a freelancer, artist, solopreneur… anything that avoids the chaos of dealing with other people constantly.
But then I realize that this is just a desire to have total control, which is an illusion anyway. The chaos of other humans - including hurt feelings, misunderstandings, frustration - it’s all part and parcel of what it means to have a meaningful relationship. To avoid chaos is to avoid life!
Thank you so much for this thought provoking read!
What an encouraging post! I’m a planner too, and this often leads to unnecessary stress. So I think one of my resolutions is to let myself be inspired without focusing so much on the destination. I want to start enjoying the creative process more.