Wait for It…

They say patience is a virtue. But, it’s not a virtue that I naturally possess. When I want it, I want it now!  Yet, immediacy and present action has been more of a wish than a reality for me over the years. For example, my plans to move immediately after I graduated from college dissolved into a settlement in my present location.  My intentions to launch directly from school to a shining career have dragged through a meandering road of unexpected detours and traffic delays.

Yet, I’m told by the wise man that “for everything there is a season” …so I should not see these digressions as stumbling blocks but stepping stones. It’s just that when you’re a person who struggles with that patience virtue, it’s hard to conceive that the extended delay at the stop light is in any way a benefit to reaching the destination.

So, what is it with waiting? What is it about that pause, that is so helpful for the future?

And what about you creatives out there? Do you struggle with waiting?

When you sit at the canvas…

at the piano…

at the keyboard and wait…

for something:  an image, an inspiration, a melody? a breakthrough?

Waiting can be hard.  Yet, waiting does something…

It allows for preparation. If you’ve ever been in that weird space in between, you may remember what you learned. Just think back to middle school—that awkward educational, emotional and developmental space after elementary and just before high school. For some of us it may bring back nightmares of embarrassing moments, bad hair days and acne, but it was also a time of discovery. When the world was opening up, when we began to recognize ourselves as individuals and to establish our own sense of self. Granted, it was the beginning, but that safe space in between allowed us to prepare for the subsequent steps which would be more demanding.

Each phase of our lives is really a space between the previous one and the next which allows us time to learn from the past and anticipate the future. While it can be awkward, it is also comforting because we can take advantage of what we know while enjoying the freedom from what we don’t know.  Let’s face it, sometimes the best part about middle management is passing the buck! (“Sorry, I’m not authorized to make that decision, you’ll have to ask my supervisor!”) Yet, watching what happens at the next level, keeping our eyes and ears open to what goes on at the front of the line allows us time to think about what works and what doesn’t.

While you’re waiting for inspiration to come, what can you learn from what you already know?

It facilitates maturation.  You may not like being in middle school or “middle management” because, the other reality is that you’re often reminded of what you “can’t” do! You’re old enough to “know better” not old enough to have the keys.  You have just enough power (knowledge or skill) to do lots of work, but not enough to get much credit for it. Those around you call the shots, make the decisions and hold your future in their hands. Waiting for your day is like watching grass grow!  Yet, as those of us who survived middle school know, the years in between mark a period of significant change, growth and development. Our bodies and minds matured so much during that time that family and friends hardly recognized us by the end of it! The time of waiting may feel long, but it is necessary to facilitate this maturity. If our parents gave us the keys when we were 12, disaster would have certainly followed. But, within 4-6 years, we matured from those awkward middle stages into more mature (though still maturing) teenagers capable of greater responsibilities and independence.

As adults, moving from middle to upper management–or from novices to masters in our fields–may feel like a work of futility, but the work that we’re doing, the small steps we are taking, every task we complete is part of our maturation. We don’t notice it while it’s happening because the changes are imperceptible, but over time, the accumulation of every small effort—even unintentional ones—is contributing to our development until one day we’ll look up and, perhaps, not even recognize ourselves!

It builds anticipation. Then, when you’ve been in that middle zone long enough to see how it works, long enough to watch what’s next, long enough to study and prepare, you’ll feel that preparation welling up. What may have started out as fear will transform into energy.  When you were a middle-school kid, you may have felt out of sorts–uncomfortable in your own skin. Maybe you worried what other people thought about you and cared what others said.  But during the waiting you’ve had time to settle in. You’ve had time to observe the cycles, to see that people talk about what they admire and camouflage their jealousy with disdain. You understand leadership—that blind ambition clouds judgement, but humility covers a multitude of sins.

You’ve grown and matured.  Now you’re ready for your shot.

You’re ready to take your place at the front of the line–to step out onto center stage.  The time spent waiting is like wood stacked for a fire and the anticipation is a simmering cauldron on an open flame ready to explode!

This is your moment. When preparation meets opportunity, you’ll know it, you’ll feel it and you’ll be ready. “Despise not the day of small beginnings”. Be patient…it’s coming…just wait for it!

 

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Special thanks to Anaya Katlego on Unsplash for cover photo

The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Resilient

In the movie The Pursuit of Happy-ness Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a man who is catapulted into one crisis after another as he attempts to attain his dream job and secure a stable and prosperous future for himself and his son. Always a half step away from homelessness Gardner, nonetheless, forges ahead, relentlessly pursuing.

To me, Chris Gardner epitomizes resilience and this movie based on his real life story has inspired me not to quit.

I am awe struck by the manner in which Gardner maintains his drive and determination in spite of what seem to be insurmountable odds. I am gripped by the image of this man, in full sprint, sweat pouring from him, as he feverishly chases after the impossible and improbable.

The odds were against him and his stakes were much higher than mine.  Yet he never quit.

I say that writing is my passion, but when I observe the passion with which Chris Gardner pursued his dream, I realize that I have not pushed hard enough.  I’ve given in to discouragement too easily.  I’ve allowed those little voices in my head to tell me my time has passed; there’s nothing that I can contribute to the publishing world that hasn’t already been done–nothing to say that hasn’t already been said.

But, then there’s that scene in the movie when Gardner discourages his son from pursuing his love of basketball. “It’s not in you” Gardner tells him. “So don’t waste your time with NBA dreams.” The little boy drops his head and packs away his ball. How many times have I been that boy? Feeling like the world is shutting me down, telling me “don’t waste your time” and so I’ve packed away my pens and paper.

But then Gardner catches himself. Realizing the power of his words to either bring life–or death –to a son whose whole existence depends on his father–Gardner recants: “Hey,” he calls his son back. “Don’t ever let anybody tell you you can’t do something, that you can’t achieve your dreams…not even me.”

And so, I return again to the writing desk.  With no less sweat and tears than the man in full pursuit, I clamor for that prize–and so should you. Don’t let anyone–even you–tell you that you can’t. Let’s be like Chris Gardner and feverishly chase after the impossible and improbable. Because the real lesson of resilience is that happiness is in the pursuit!

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Happy New Year! Writer Goals for 2017

Wow! 2017! Can you believe it?

So, now it begins…the journey that is Books & Coffee. (Check out my “Welcome” post if you’re visiting for the first time.) Today begins my journey towards more –and hopefully better–writing. So, to kick things off, I’ve made a list of goals to keep me on track, because what else are you supposed to do on the first day of the year, if not make a list of resolutions? But even as I do so, I am keenly aware of the reality that resolutions are usually only good for the first month of the year. Everybody gets the gym membership, launches the business plan, commits to dropping that bad habit, then somewhere around February 1st, goes right back to where we started, right?

Then, how do we avoid falling into that trap of waning post-New Year’s enthusiasm? I wish I had an answer to that question! All I know is that we just have to try and keep trying! Ben Huberman has some suggestions and  Ira Shor’s advice is a great way to begin:

So, with this in mind, here’s my list for 2017:

  1. Write daily.  This is a tough one, but I’m not talking about daily philosophical treatises, I’m just talking about writing something every day–even if it’s just a few paragraphs.
  2. Allow yourself to write poorly. Don’t misunderstand. The goal here is NOT to write poorly, but rather to allow yourself the space to write even if it isn’t your best work. This is what Ira Shor is talking about, and he’s right, this is tough! I know what good writing looks like, so when I’m not producing it, my natural inclination is to stop.  But I must push past this temptation and just keep writing. The assumption here is that the bad writing will get better. (*fingers crossed*)
  3. Build a community of writers. I think humans, for the most part, are naturally social beings. Although there are times when I want to shut out the world, more often than not, I thrive when surrounded by like-minded people with whom I can share and from whom I can learn . That’s where you come in! You, the community of writers and aspiring writers who share in this passion to give voice to our ideas that have the potential to change the world!

So, now it begins…Happy writing & Happy 2017!

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