There are all these sayings about life being a marathon, not a sprint.
And for years, I tried to retrain myself into a marathon-mentality.
And I hated it.
It bored me.
It’s like when I tried cross country running in high school. The first day of practice, I took off sprinting as hard and as fast as I could, while everyone else did that uber slow could-walk-this-fast jogging pace.
It didn’t take long for me to get wiped out, of course. So I sat down out of breath until I was ready to run some more. And yea, most people passed me. And when I felt ready to sprint again, I’d pass them, and then get exhausted and stop. (Tortoise and Hare sort of gig.)
A few weeks into practicing, I had learned to run the way they ran. Slow, steady, going for the distance.
And I hated it and I quit.
It was a hard decision to make, because their recommended diet included pancakes and waffles and pasta and that was admittedly one of the reasons I chose to join the team.
Years ago, I had a friend tell me, “Why don’t you embrace your natural cycle rather than try to fight it?” And only recently has that been something I’ve felt willing to do.
Deadlines turn me on. Feeling the fire under my ass of something being due in 12 hours when it would normally take 2 days to complete makes me feel alive and focused and fully present. I am forced to step out of my own way. The Inner Critic is forced to take the back seat.
And I create amazing work.
Every A+ project I ever did in school was done the night before or the morning it was due.
My book was written in 4 weeks. 80,000 words (in the first draft) in 4 weeks. (A book “normally” can take a year or more to write.)
And when I paint, I don’t sit down and paint one painting. I sit down and get in the flow and paint 4-8 paintings in one sitting.
So this is great. The creating part is awesome. Once Inspiration kicks in, I’m amped and I know I’m going to complete whatever it is before it’s due. Inspiration brings along with it Trust and Excitement.
The hard part is before inspiration strikes.
That’s when the Inner Critic is uber loud. Fears bubble up.
“YOU’RE SABOTAGING YOURSELF BY SITTING AROUND AND DOING NOTHING.”
(But the times I’ve gotten up and forced myself to create prior to my natural creative cycle’s start time, I’ve felt cranky and the process has been unenjoyable and not at all flowy.)
“LIFE IS A MARATHON RACE. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”
(But what if I’m not a marathon runner? Quarter Horses, for instance, are better for short spurts of quick speed [“quarter” comes from quarter mile] than, say, Thoroughbreds. Does that mean the Quarter Horse should force its short stumpy legs to run as long as the tall, slender Thoroughbred? Or do we just embrace our differences and recognize that we each have our own process?)
“INSPIRATION ISN’T GOING TO SHOW UP THIS TIME. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO COMPLETE THIS.”
(I have learned that Inspiration always shows up. Inspiration is always there. It’s a matter of me tapping into it… Which happens in more of a natural flowy way than an “I’m going to force this cuz’ I need me some inpirin’ NOW.”)
For yeeeaaaarrss now the process has looked like this:
Get assigned a project, due in two weeks.
Spend first few days thinking about project, excited.
Spend next 9 days in a depressive episode because WHERE IS MY INSPIRATION I SHOULD BE DONE BY NOW OH NO THIS IS THE TIME I WILL FAIL.
Suddenly get hit with a deep boost of inspiration and energy.
Complete everything in more than enough time.
Think, “Wow. I should just trust the process next time.”
It’s interesting to become aware of how much of my life I judge based on how I think it SHOULD be. Based on what I’ve learned from external sources.
Rather than being like, “This is how I operate. Fuck all y’all. I’m gonna’ watch movies and eat chocolate for the next week in pure relaxed bliss with full trust that I’ll get started on the project when the time is right.”
I’m closer than I’ve ever been to that. I still deal with some sulking. I’m currently sulking. Like. It’s 3:30 and I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth and all I want to do is sleep and complain that the six paintings and monologues that need to be done by tomorrow are not done yet. WOE IS ME.
Rather than sulk and stress, I’m gonna’ see what happens if I chill out. Embrace the laziness for a bit. Not fight it. Cuz’ maybe my batteries are charging in preparation for the inevitable sprint.