Thursday, November 10, 2016

There is nothing good unless you do it.

Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser: “There is nothing good unless you do it.” Erich Kästner
“I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ – then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.” President Obama
I love this last line: If you can keep it about the work, you'll always have a path. There's always something to be done.

Today, maybe tomorrow, next week for sure, I'll finish the first draft of Melange, the sequel to Menagerie. I've told myself that after this book I'll take a break from writing. I'll tackle household projects and prepare for the holidays. The problem with this is I've learned from past experiences that when I'm writing it's as if all of my lights are green. When I'm not writing, all of the lights are red. Things break. People let me down. Life is FRUSTRATING. I've blogged about this conundrum before: 

So Now I'm a Wasteful Liar, and a Cooking Cheat

And it might seem like a riddle, but it's really not. The truth is when I'm sitting in my office in front of my computer, life is pretty uncomplicated. Very little can go wrong. I'm the god of that fictional universe. But once I step out of my office, I have to interact with people who have their own goals, motivations, and opinions. I'm forced to use things that may or may not be functioning the way they should. Even the weather can be uncooperative.

Here's another blog post about the same sort of thing.
What do Nehemiah and Hemingway have in common?

The trick is to find the work and the path, set doubts aside, and accomplish what you need to do. It's okay to wander off the path for a few days, weeks, or even years. You might even want to explore other paths, but if you do, you have to be prepared for frustrations. It's like playing tennis. In the beginning of anything, there's just a lot of ball chasing. It's not that fun. But once you learn how to serve and you've perfected your backhand, it's great. In anything, you have to come to a place where everything feels natural--so natural, that when you're not doing it, life seems like it's full of red lights.

And that's okay when you're thinking about the holidays. Red and green lights are requisite. Unless, of course, you're Jewish. Then you have blue and white lights.

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