The day started black.
Oh, the sun was bright. There were birds singing. A cool breeze wafted through the room. But to me, it was all black. I did not want to get up. I did not want to attack my to-do list. I did not want to go to work. I did not want to deal with breakfast. I wanted to wallow and disappear. Obviously, I did get up. But for a few moments……
Welcome to my reality. Welcome to my depression.
It’s not going to go away. I’ve finally accepted that. It’s a chronic disease without a cure. That’s just the fact of it. If I manage to squeeze another 20-30 years out of my life, this is what it will be.
Obviously, I did get up. I forced myself, as I do every day, and popped out of bed with my morning mantra “It’s showtime!”. I don’t know where that came from, but it’s the phrase I say day after day after day as I fling my legs off the bed and onto the floor. The first part of a ritual that then moves to meditation, prayer, devotions, and writing.
It’s hard to get started. That’s just the truth. My truth. But life has an inertia to it. Get moving. Get moving in the right direction and you tend to keep moving in that direction. It gets easier. I don’t have to fight my way through the day. I just have to get past that first few minutes when my lying brain tells me to surrender, that I can’t perform in life, that people don’t really care if I live or die, that I don’t make a difference so I may as well just lay there. It won’t matter and surrender is so sweet.
Get moving. Do something. Find the things that settle your soul and reset your mind. Do it first thing in the morning. Like rituals. Like preparing for battle.
I get e-mails sometimes from people asking why, if some days I write and post several things in a day, and other days I write and post nothing, why don’t I sandbag some of my writings towards the day that I have nothing?
Maybe I should. That would be the logical thing for a writer building an audience. If people are expecting something every day, best maybe to give it to them, Consistency is valuable when you want to build and keep an audience. That’s what all the books and workshops say. I know there is truth in it.
But there is also truth in sharing what comes when it comes. In not sandbagging. You see, I have a need to believe in Manna.
For those of you not steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition, manna was a bread-like substance that God covered the ground with while the Jews were wandering in the desert on their way to the promised land. There was no food but each day God would cover the earth with this white bread like stuff (Scientists have had a field day trying to figure out what it might have been). You could not hoard or save it, for it would rot if you did. You simply had to trust each day that it would be there.
I treat my writing, my creativity, the same way. There is a part of my brain that believes, really believes, that if I don’t write for a day or two, I’ll never write anything good again. I know where that comes from. There was a period in my life where I didn’t write, or do anything creative, for years. It was an erosive time. I did not like what I became during those years. And it took a lot of years to work myself back to my true self, which included creating expressive things.
It’s a lie, just like the depression is a lie. For all I know, those two lies may be interrelated.
Today I take a manna approach to life. I don’t hedge my bets. I don’t sandbag. I no longer life in a world where I have Plan A, Plan B and enough other backup plans to about Plan J or K. No, I trust myself. I trust God. I trust what I believe is a kind universe to show me the way, to give me inspiration, to give me lessons anew each and every day. Whereas once I already had Plan B ready to go, I don’t anymore. “We’ll figure it out.” has become my mantra.
Before, when I had all those plans lined up for everything in life, it gave me a certain confidence that I was ready. It was a good thing, that confidence, but it took a toll. I had to come up with all those plans, which took a lot of time, and, I have come to see, kept me from being “all-in” with plan A.
“All-In”, I like that better than being less than “all-in”. I hate mixed emotions. I hate being less that fully focused. I am not nearly as effective. I am not nearly as emotionally committed. There’s always that sense that “Well if this fails, I have Plan B.”
Letting go of Plans B through K was hard. It meant letting go of a security that I kinda liked, that made me… comfortable.
But it also kept me from being in the now. It often blinded me to changes, opportunities, people as they are, all sorts of things. And it kept me from realizing how well I think and act on the fly. It reduced my confidence in myself. All for the best of motives.
I live differently now. I have few backup plans.
It was scary at first, letting go of them. I have to tell you. But I felt I needed to be more in the moment, more committed to the people, paths, and plans I did make. I hoped, I prayed that the tradeoff would be worth it. I had to plow through some pretty deep fears and self-imposed roadblocks.
So far, I think it is.
I like my life a lot more when it is not diluted with backup plans and escape hatches. I sure spend a lot less time with “what-if’s”. My relationships are deeper. My fears have diminished. My confidence in myself has grown back. I figure things out better and based on the moment, not some pre-conceived notion. I can not write for a day or two and not fear it’s never coming back.
When I get up in the morning and throw my feet on the floor saying “It’s showtime!”, I have come to realize it’s more improv than a scripted play. And that challenge might not be good for everyone, but it works for me. I am OK trusting in Manna.
Make mine pepperoni.
Be well. Travel wisely,