THE PROMPT: December 2 – Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)
When I first read this prompt, I thought that it was asking me to think about what keeps me from writing each day. Consequently, I started to contemplate the rabbit hole that is facebook and the way I get sucked in to Twitter for longer than is probably advisable… But as I look at the prompt again, I realize that it is asking something very different: what do I do that does not CONTRIBUTE to my writing? That’s a different can of worms entirely.
Social media doesn’t make this list, because the community of faithful rogues that has begun to gel there (especially on Twitter) really informs my writing. Beyond that, the information sharing that takes place via social media helps me to discover articles, news stories, schools of thought and images that I would likely never find on my own – all of this contributes greatly to the things and the ways that I write.
So, back to the question: what do I do each day that does NOT contribute to my writing?
Above all else, the most detrimental habit to my writing is worry. When I worry, it’s as though my hands get tied behind my back and my brain begins an endless loop of what ifs. In that state, even if I could convince myself to sit down and get some words out, it would all be incomprehensible gobblety-guk. Worry makes “can’t” my modus operandi.
Yet, I worry a lot (about a lot of things). I worry about money: can we pay the bills, can we pay off the student loans, will we ever be able to buy a house, will we have anything to live on in retirement, will we even be able to retire? I worry about our government: will they do what is just, do they care about the people, are their motives pure and good, will power corrupt the ones with good intentions? I worry about the world: will things get even worse for the poor, will we continue to be at war with one another, will the earth eventually reject us as a species for being such lousy tenants? I worry about the Church: will we ever learn how to love each other, will church folks stop using the Bible as a weapon, can we be a conduit of hope in a broken world?
The more anxious I become, the more every answer to these questions seems to be negative (which ignites a new batch of anxiety). As I worry more, writing becomes next to impossible – and since writing is my primary prayer path, I also pray less.
Basically, worry is my kryptonite.
But can I eliminate worry? Is a worry-free life possible for me? I’m not sure, but I suspect the answer lies within a particular part of my personality that has really come into play recently: I’m a “true believer”. At my core, I truly believe that we can learn to love each other, that there are good-intentioned people out there who don’t let power get the best of them, that the people of the Way who call ourselves “Church” can channel God’s hope and wholeness out into the world. I’m an idealist (despite my attempts to pretend otherwise). Worry is such a problem for me because it is the flip side of this optimistic idealism.
Taking this duality into account, I don’t think that I can ever truly eradicate worry from my life. It will always be a part of me that roars into life at inopportune moments. But, knowing that it is a slice of my own personal “dark side” is at least a step in the right direction. As GI Joe used to say: Knowing is half the battle!