A poem about nerves and fear:
The thing about fear is that drives you down to your stomach in Now
Now is here, there, and living like a wild monkey on your shoulder, playing with your chest like it’s strumming a harp
And the drive is to forget, to distract, to just get away to a place with unfamiliar bridges in shadowy nights
But what do we have, if we do not appreciate this moment?
Every moment we have is a moment of our lives, a moment of time, limited edition feat. You and yourself and all the rest of you
Maybe it’s radical, but even if it is our fear making us hold Time in the forefront of our minds, we are still holding Time
And as we shift towards gratitude, an absurdity, we make a pact of peace
Why should we be ashamed of our fear? We didn’t cast Fear as the starring role in the film, all we can do is deal with the diva
And we handle it,
as we have in the past, as others have done, and as we will do in the future, as other future selves will do
It’s been a while, and the coming months will likely be trying, but the importance of trying cannot be understated. In both facing our fears and putting forth our best efforts, we should care. Caring is one of the most difficult things we can do, and it gets harder the more things we experience. The more we know, the more we realize how our compassion and vulnerability can be used against us, or sometimes worse, be ignored altogether.
In many ways, the story of human life is one that longs for connection and becomes frustrated in the journey again and again. Babies cry, and almost immediately we begin training them to shut up. It’s necessary. We have to be individuals that are self-supporting, but we can’t exist too self-supporting or else we become miserable and alone. If we are too dependent, on the other hand, we become aware of the burden of our existence on others. We are each like parts on a bike; the grimy handlebars wish to be the free-wheeling tires, the exhausted tires long to be the lofty seat, the squashed seat desires the control of the handlebars and the spokes just pray they will be able to hold everything together.
When we are unhappy, it can infect everything. A neutral or happy past experience can be twisted into a negative narrative. Being sad gives us this hungry drive to make everything else in our life fit that mood, but it can’t, not completely. No matter how insatiably wretched we may feel, we haven’t spent every waking moment from the womb feeling that way. We’re human. We have complex emotion, often more complex than we want. Caring, putting ourselves out there, all of these things are so important and can become staggeringly difficult. Yet, just as we realize how dismal we are in the moment, we can trust in our own fickle nature. We will find beautiful things we enjoy, whether we are looking for them or not. Things hurt. Let yourself be angry, let yourself be sad, but also don’t forget to let yourself be happy too.
Life is like painting: it takes patience, practice, and just know that you’re going to mess up. Sometimes we sketch out our plans and outline them and everything, but the second we start to actually carry it out, we have doubts. We want to switch the painting around. And while we hate the idea of painting without that nice skeleton outline, we can make do with what we have.
Things won’t turn out exactly like you have them in your head. Even if all your dreams come true, the people populating them will be more different and varied that you can possibly account for. Being at peace seems like a joke in many ways. Life has conflicts! Life has people, and people are hard to deal with. However, without those people, life is miserable. The trick then, is learning how to be okay with people, how to be at peace with your relationships.
Communication sounds simple but it’s the hardest thing to do, because we don’t necessarily know the words or phrases to express exactly where we’re at. We have to trust every time we open our mouth that the person will be listening, and if they’re listening, that they will understand. It takes courage to say some things, and it’s okay if it’s difficult for you. Words are hard. However, pushing through our fear and expressing our feelings to those closest to us is the right thing to do. It keeps us honest and open. When we let other people idealize us, we do both people a disservice. You are human and you are flawed– so is everyone else. Aim for tact, but if worst comes to worst, just know that the most important thing is to get it out there. Tell people where you’re going, where you want to go, what you plan on eating, if you’re tired, if you want them to go away or stay; tell people because they won’t know otherwise. Life is like painting, it takes practice, and patience, but don’t be afraid to lay it all out.
Some of the world’s most famous authors and their classic, history-changing books aren’t considered to be done. Kafka, for example, didn’t want any of his work published, he wanted it to be burned. If not for his disloyal-for-your-own-good friend, we wouldn’t have any of his novels. Even authors who live to see their work published and successful, few feel that work is ‘done’. There is always more they want to change or add.
To some extent, we all have perfectionistic tendencies. When something really matters to us, we want it to be beyond all disregard. We want to keep editing and changing things in our lives because we have this vision of what it could be like, and it’s never quite there. However, the most important thing to remember is that those famous authors who never want to quit editing actually got their work published. Even though it wasn’t quite right, they put the words down and got things done.
There’s nothing “wrong” with perfectionism; it’s a natural desire to want things to be whole and good. The problem with it, however, is that it can be stifling. It’s good to want to get something beautiful and amazing done, but it’s more important to just get something done. Even the most beautiful half-finished painting is worthless if it’s in the corner seen by no one. We are given more opportunity than we realize but we don’t tend to see it easily because our minds are so caught up in the tasks we should be done with, or haven’t finished with. It’s good to revise, but there’s more than one thing to revise in our lives.