Margaret Atwood’s Advice for Writers: the wastepaper basket is your friend.
I recently got my new website up and running. It was a process that took months and involved moving four years of blog posts over, one post at a time — no small task!
It was interesting to intimately revisit my writing. A lot of the entries are personal and contemplative and many of them I hadn’t remembered well. That’s the thing about the past. It blurs into one color in the rear view. We lose the nuances of who we were, how we felt, what went down, how it affected us. And we tend to be so forward facing and ambitious and impatient as human beings — so interested in what’s next — that discount the brilliance of what came before. We don’t always give ourselves credit or take the time to take stock and appreciate how much we’ve lived through. How much we’ve survived and accomplished.
I had a client who trained for a long time and then ran a marathon and I remember, in our session, post-marathon, one of the things I was most curious about was how it felt after crossing the finish line. Because a finish line — the literal ones and the metaphorical ones too — they are not just a point of completion. A finish line is also a point of transition. And it helps to remember this. Because when our expectations are out of synch with our reality, we suffer.
Those times of completion — of actualizing something we’ve wanted for ourselves — they’re beautiful! They can be deeply emotional and rich. They can also feel heavy. We can also lose our footing on the other side of a goal because we tend to forget the transition part. We’re so focused on the finish line that we neglect to consider that our lives will continue on the other side of the finish line. How will we feel? What will we need?
I’ve talked about this in the context of writing my book. For two years I was a person writing a book and when people would ask me about it, I was happy to tell them: oh yes, I’m writing a book — it’s about healing and what gets in the way of healing and how to navigate. And the other person would say: Oh wow how exciting — good for you. And it would be good feelings all around. My Ego felt calm because as long as I was writing the book, there was nothing at stake.