A couple of years ago when I was gainfully unemployed and wallowing in self pity, I made an appointment with my counselor Betti to help me “sort out my feelings.” After our usual chit chat about how I was doing, I believe I launched into a whine fest which probably included the phrases “why me” and “what’s wrong with me?” Betti nodded wisely as I vented and when I paused to reach for the first of many tissues, she put down her notebook and calmly said, “I’m going to tell you something I save for very special clients.”
I braced for the usual wise words and spirit-lifting advice from Betti that makes me feel better as I write out my check. I should have braced a little harder because what she said surprised me.
“GET OVER YOURSELF! Do you know how many people are unemployed just like you?! You are not special! Have your pity party, cry and get over it!”
I sat stunned in my chair like I had been slapped in the face with a fish. I’m sure Betti laughed at my expression but I do remember her softening a bit as she gave me tips on how to get over myself.
I should have taken notes. Why? Well, like most creative types, the pity party loop sometimes gets stuck on repeat and has been for the past couple of weeks. I’m not exercising enough, I’m not writing enough, etc. etc. I’m looking for perfect conditions and not finding them, and I keep reaching for inspiration from a piece of concrete and just not getting it. So I do nothing.
When we think of obstacles that get in the way of our dreams it’s easy to look at others and blame them. But in the end, it really comes down to US. WE have to decide if we’re going to continue with a certain behavior pattern. WE have to decide to make the effort to get up early and exercise. WE have to decide that our dreams ARE worth a little sacrifice even if means missing our favorite TV shows. Sure, I can’t be a supermodel that travels the world (nor would I want to) but I can be a travel writer who writes about exotic locales.
Ever since his death, Ray Bradbury has haunted me from the grave. The first time was when I heard an interview with him on Fresh Air which I wrote about in a post that included very sad clowns. In case you forgot, Ray had this to say about the haters, “I had allowed these fools to kill me and kill the future. From that time on I decided I would never listen to another damn fool in my life and started collecting comics again. I have learned that by doing things, things get done”
Then last week, I was looking up quotes by famous people about not quitting and Ray made another appearance in my life by saying, You fail only if you stop writing.
OK, Ray. As much as I hate getting up early, it’s time to take advantage of the early morning sun and just run. Now that my work schedule doesn’t involve a beastly commute, I have no excuse not to write after work. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes. I’m very good at making lists, but not very good at following through. Perhaps I need to tattoo Ray’s words on my arm as a reminder. By doing things, things get done.