My fingers have this tendency to freeze over the keyboard when I try to write a blog post. I keep feeling like what comes out of my fingers instantly has to be profound. However, today I had a tiny epiphany.
My epiphany was this. Try writing my thoughts out by hand, in my penmanship. Yes, the old-fashioned way. Pencil on paper. Then, type it out, polishing up the written thoughts.
Trying this today seems to have worked for me. Here I am again, nearly a month since my last blog post. Woohoo! Hello!
One thing I tell myself, and I suspect many of you do also, is that our creations have to be perfect before they are put out there in the wide world. Or even that we tell ourselves that we have to be perfect. We feel that our art has to be just right, our writing the best ever, doing 5Ks and running the whole way, obsess over those pesky last five pounds that have to be lost. It goes on and on. At least it tends to, for me.
I have recently read two very helpful — you might in fact call them self-help — books that helped me get to where I am at this moment of realizing that striving for perfection is pointless. They have helped me, for instance, get to getting over the intimidation that prevents me from my desire to write. No, not all my problems (either self-perceived or actual) are solved instantly as a result of reading these two books, but they did indeed help me.
Here are the two books: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love and other books), and Start. by Jon Acuff.
Each book has many very good points in it, but let me share something from each that really spoke to me, and told me to let go of perfection and to let go of the feeling that I should know what I should be doing.
From Big Magic, about curiosity (which I took as definitely not waiting around waiting for a lighting bolt of knowledge or of clarity about life. Or of knowing your “purpose”) :
…curiosity only ever asks one simple question: “Is there anything you’re interested in?”
Even a tiny bit?
No matter how mundane or small?
The answer need not set your life on fire, or make you quit your job, or force you to change your religion, or send you into a fugue state; it just has to capture your attention for a moment. But in that moment, if you can pause and identify even one tiny speck of interest in something, then curiosity will ask you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look at the thing a wee bit closer.
(p. 238, Big Magic)
As for Jon Acuff, this is one thing he said that really got to me:
So why do we think we’ll never find a singular purpose that will guide us forever?
Forget finding a purpose. It’s a never-ending story that will leave you empty instead. Live with purpose instead.
….Whatever you’re going to do, do it with purpose. Not as if purpose is a key you’re going to find in the bottom of a trunk of old sweaters, but rather as if purpose is an approach to life that can shape everything you do.
(p. 51, Start.)
So here’s to following curiosity. Here’s to living with purpose. And here’s to old-fashioned pencil and paper, writing out by hand.