It will not be easy. It never is.
If it were easy it wouldn’t be worth anything. If it were easy, you wouldn’t learn valuable lessons along the way. You wouldn’t have personal breakthroughs and you wouldn’t appreciate the other side …if it were easy.
The “it” to which I’m referring is …well …anything. The “it” is essentially up to you. It could be that novel you’ve been vowing to finish. It could be that extra fifteen pounds you’ve been promising yourself you’re gonna lose. It might be that project you’ve been knocking around in your head for a decade. It could be that girl or boy you’ve been wanting to ask out. Maybe it is that business you say you’re going to start. Whatever it is …it won’t be easy.
The most fun and easiest part of a journey or endeavor is the beginning. The best laid plans always come with that intoxicating sense of inevitability. THIS is going to happen! I’m at the starting gate. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. This is the first day of the rest of my …blah, blah, blah.
Yes, the beginning is fun …
It’s fun because you haven’t made the critical mistakes yet. You haven’t seen how impossible it’s going to be yet. It’s fun because you haven’t reached the end of your rope yet. You haven’t been beaten up by the critics or been left in the dust on your own. You haven’t been forced to choose between “it” and a vacation or “it” and a new outfit or “it” and time with your family or “it” and your relationship with your spouse. You haven’t been to the dark side of “it” yet. And to finish “it,” the dark side is where must go.
All of us artists always have something unfinished we’ve been “working on” in the back of our minds. The idea of it is like a security blanket. As long as it’s out there in the distance, not yet born, we can imagine it any way we want.
In our fantasy, it is wildly successful and affects the world. It makes people laugh and cry and think and reimagine themselves and adjust their world view. It strikes all the chords we want it to strike and it launches us into new realms of artistic swirl. As long as it stays unfinished, it can remain a fantasy we can cling to as we’re drifting off to sleep, still wondering if we’re enough. Our unfinished projects help us answer that question …with a question that can remain unanswered.
The truly brave among us …finish. It is no more complicated than that. The beginning is easy and lovely. The middle is difficult, arduous and mind numbing. And it is where many lose their focus, lose their vision, lose their stamina and sometimes …lose their minds. But the end is where we meet God. At the finish line is where you find the next level of yourself you didn’t know existed. The end is where you shed a certain part of your skin and become something new.
On Thanksgiving day, I was the author of one book and I had (as a recording artist) recorded four (4) CDs. By Christmas day, I was the author of THREE (3) books and had recorded SIX (6) CDs. On Christmas Eve I plunged into one of the worst bouts of depression I’ve been in in decades. I knew it was coming. That type of emotional journey always triggers a spiral for me. Usually, it’s wrapped in one project and it’s manageable. But this time is was wrapped in several projects at once …and it was debilitating.
The spiral begins with the fact that I’ve now completed something. I’ve put it into the world. I have to live with the consequences of its failure (or worse, its success) for the rest of my life. I can’t hide anymore. THIS was what I thought was good enough to occupy everyone’s time. No matter what my grand fantasies were about how that piece of art is received, I now have to deal with the reality of it. The fantasy has been replaced. I don’t get to hold that anymore. The secret is out. And I will be judged based on the reality …not the fantasy.
All artists go through some form of this postpartum depression, after completing a project. And if you’re not willing to face those demons, you should probably do something else. God knows I want to do something else almost every day. But I keep going. Sometimes (most times) I don’t even know why.
Whatever your “it” is this year, I hope you finally get around to it. But I offer a friendly word of caution from the abyss. Remember that when it’s finished, it will not look like you thought it would. It will not be what you thought it would be. It will not bring you what you thought it would bring you. That’s not what “its” and endings are for.
Regardless of how “it” ends up, do it anyway. It’s in your head and your heart for a reason. And when you get your courage up, you will finally walk through the fires you’ll need to walk through to finish “it.”
And once you finish “it” …you will never be the same.
PS: for those who want to order my first blog book (that I finished over the holidays, “Blah, Blah, Blogger …”) contact me by email.