Okay so maybe it wasn’t the best idea to write the post on inspiration when I was feeling uninspired. Did it get me in the mood? Not this time. I still felt steam-rolled afterwards, like I couldn’t catch my breath and was limping around lopsided, like the hunchback of Luzern. Call me melodramatic, call me what you like, but it’s just not in my constitution to be breathing out so much all day. It takes a while to get back to me. Do you know what I mean? Have you also been feeling like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed? Like you’re waiting for the ride to stop so you can run and throw up?
Why did I insist on powering on then? Because it was Thursday and because I’ve made a commitment to you and to me. There are certain things in our lives that should be non-negotiable, no matter what’s going on in the galaxy around us. Our heads may be spinning, but we need those things that keep us on the axis, that stop our heads from being flung off into the deep reaches of outerspace.
Commitment. In good times and in bad.
Commit to the life you want so bad. Then live it.
Elizabeth Gilbert believes that if you are serious about a life of writing or any other creative pursuit, then you must ‘take on this work like a holy calling’. She took a vow and became a ‘Bride-of-writing’. And I believe in Elizabeth Gilbert.
After she graduated from NYU in Creative Writing, she enrolled herself in the school of life and created her own post-graduate program, traveling America and the world, working in bars and listening to the way people talked and gathering experiences. She wrote the whole time.
For me, this past six months, this blog has been my connection to writing. It is my once a week commitment, but it has been enough to keep the relationship alive. I have hopes for a brighter future. One day baby.
I don’t know if this is an original thought or if I’ve read this somewhere before (maybe it was Liz Gilbert in fact) – the body and mind like to know what’s going on. So if you make a commitment to, say two hours of writing Saturday through Tuesday from 8am to 10am, and you show up, then the mind and the creative source will show up too. It’s a relationship of giving and taking that you are cultivating.
So, as in relationships, commitment is about more than just ‘being there’. True commitment is about showing up with something to give.
And it takes some effort to show up with blood in your veins.
It seems to me that those who excel most in their chosen field take a holistic approach to their lives. Gone are the Hemmingway days of Parisienne prostitutes and boozy late nights. Artists these days seem to have routines as structured as the rest of the population. They nourish themselves with food and sleep, movement and solitude.
The prolific Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, in his non-fiction book, ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’, compares his marathon training to his life as a writer. When he’s working on a novel he gets up at 4am and goes to bed at 9pm for it, every single day. He says that through the repetition of his routine he mesmerizes himself into a deeper state of mind. Johnathon Franzen, of Freedom fame, writes through the stillness of the night and edits by the light of day.
This is commitment.
Plus, each writer seems to have a daily routine organised around the actual writing. Activities that support and feed the writer are selected with care. You can find many more examples of this here. We could apply this to anything we really want (weight loss, education, saving money…etc). We need to put some thought into what will get us into the right state of being and we make sacrifices to keep our commitments.
There will be times though that conditions are not ideal, and then we have to stick to our routine anyway. Henry Miller, for example, had his ‘if groggy’, ‘if in fine fettle’ options. Even when hung over he was committed to moving the work along.
As with most things, prevention is better cure. Getting back to our week, most of us pursue our passions in the afterwork hours. So we must ensure we have something left in us to give. There is no point falling off the energetic edge of no return. This is hard to climb back from.
Although at times it feels like a limited resource, there are little things we can do each day to make sure we are using our energy in a sustainable manner. After feeling depleted last week, I was reminded in Melissa D’Antoni’s Creative Abundance course about my morning rituals and routines. Connecting to myself, quiet time, filling the well. Then I have something left for later.
Prevention is about preparation. Another example – did you know that yoga was created as a way to keep one’s body limber and strong enough for meditation? We think it’s about the stretching and sweating – but all that’s just for the sitting – which really is the hardest part. Sitting still is the hardest part.
And what if we’re still not in the mood? Tonya Leigh says she never does anything when she’s feeling uninspired. She says she only takes ‘inspired action’ and I can see her point. Though this doesn’t mean that she just waits around for the wind to carry some inspiration to whisper “get up” in her ear, but she gets herself inspired first. For her this could be going for a run or simply dressing well, even at home, or going to a fancy hotel lobby with her laptop to work. It could be going for a walk and noticing all the beauty in your surrounds.
On Friday (oh sacred Friday) I had the same experience. I’ll probably never be a person with neat hair, but I do love the effort those J.Lo-alikes put into their grooming and deportment. When we feel good from the morning, like if we look good, if we spend a little longer getting ready, if we are fresh, it totally has the power to carry you stylishly through the whole day. I don’t know about you guys, but it makes me notice the world more, through the veil of my feeling-good mood, to drink my coffee with more pleasure, to chew my food, to have a little swagger in my walk, to be more here, to give more. But hey, maybe it was Friday and maybe I was just chanelling Tonya Leigh…nah, it totally works.
This is where the commitment begins. It’s an intestinal thing, a matter of good digestion and proper nutrition. It’s about going to bed. It’s about testing the bed and the porridge. It’s about reading and writing and doing what you have to do to feel just right. It’s about emoting. It’s about maintaining a stable blood sugar level. It’s about travelling and listening to stranger’s conversations. It’s about your own education. It’s about getting yourself in the mood. It’s about having something to give and having some left over. It’s about energy in motion. It’s emotion.
Let me know how you feel about commitment or anything else on your mind. I’d love to hear from your side …