It has been three weeks since I was in Jordan. I’ve had three weeks at home trying to return to ‘normal’ life and I’ve found it difficult.
Whilst on my trip, it was easy to surrender to being in the flow. I knew I had been guided to go to Jordan. I knew I would meet wonderful people everywhere I went. Somehow I knew I would be looked after and that every experience I had was meant to happen to me.
In short, I trusted and surrendered.
And it was easy to surrender because I had things to see and do. Traveling solo meant that there was only me to rely on to get to the places I wanted to see. I had to take action.
Traveling and writing are two of my greatest passions.
I took time to write while I was away and what started out as trip notes in a diary of each day turned into 40,000 words full of colour and sounds, stories and smells and lots of adventures. The words flowed out of me as the experiences occurred.
40,000 words is a lot of words. About half of what is needed for a book. And I have more words inside me. I can feel them.
What have I done since returning to Australia? Nothing. I haven’t written a word.
Why? In a word, fear.
I’ve let fear get to me.
I have fear that what I write won’t be good enough. Even if I write enough words for a book, I’ll never find an agent or an editor or a publisher. And even if I find all of those things, no one will read it. It will sit on a shelf and be a failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the future.
And fear is joined by it’s old friend, procrastination.
I’ve spent three weeks procrastinating. Finding every excuse under the sun to keep from writing. Which is crazy since I love writing. Why have I found so many other things, from raking leaves to sleeping to cooking to drinking a lot of coffee, more important than doing what I love?
At first I thought I was surrendering to what was and waiting for some direction to come from the Universe. That was good for a week or two of procrastination. I blamed the Universe for the conditions around me which weren’t perfect for writing. I kept waiting for a day where I could sit down in the quiet and write.
Then I got a day of quiet.
And I spent it making excuses why watching Netflix, drinking coffee, going to the grocery store, taking the dog for a walk, anything really, was better than sitting down to write.
I finally saw that I was making ridiculous excuses. And I realised that the Universe is probably sitting there, feeling a bit exasperated with me, waiting to see my action in response to what has been given to me.
I’ve been given all the tools I need. It’s up to me to decide what to do with them. It’s still surrender. But it’s up to me to decide to surrender with action or without.
I was discussing this very idea with friends the other night. (Yes, I also visit friends when I’m procrastinating). They are a couple whom I adore but who often have opposite ways of looking at the same problem. When I outlined my dilemma, one said, ‘Whatever is meant to be, will be. Just keep surrendering to the Universe.’ The other said slyly, ‘Don’t forget the joke about the guy who drowned in the flood.’
If you haven’t heard the joke about the guy and the flood, here it is:
A man was stuck on his rooftop in a flood and was praying to God for help.
Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”
The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”
So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”
To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”
To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”
To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
As I sat at my friends’ house and thought about it, I laughed and realised both are right. I do have faith and have seen so often how surrendering has led me to the right place, the right person at the right time. But it’s been my action that has moved me to the next step. I can’t be like the guy waiting on his rooftop. I need to take action.
I need to write. Even if it’s just a few words a day. And when the words are right, I’ll know what to do with the manuscript. The right person will show up in my life to help me on my next step of the journey. But they can’t show up now. The manuscript isn’t ready. I’m not ready.
So I take a deep breath in and sit down to write. If I’m meant to write, the words will flow. All I have to think about is what to write in that moment. Not get caught up in what ifs about what might happen in the future. Or get caught up in what I think the future should look like.
If I had let fear win, I never would have traveled to Jordan on my own. And look how that turned out. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I want to share it with others.
There’s no better time than now. In fact, there is only now. Right now I don’t have to know anything about the future. Right now all I have to do is take the first step and write.
I can see water rising and I’m jumping in.
Dear Lisa, it’s good to know you got home safely. After such a big trip, I think it is only fair to have a bit of a writing break. If you are interested, I am part of a group that issues daily word prompts for bloggers. It’s the Ragtag Daily Prompt. If you are interested in participating in the RDP occasionally, I can send you a link to our webpage. There are plenty of procrastinators in the group so you will not be alone. Kind regards. Tracy.
Hi Tracy, Thanks for your message. Yes, please I’d like to see the webpage. I’m not sure I can commit to daily(!) but it sounds like an interesting idea. Cheers, Lisa
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I resonated with so much of what you said here (minus the trip to Jordan 🙂 ) I too am a master procrastinator when fear gets in my way. And funny that it only happens around issues of my work – which I LOVE and find so gratifying. It was reassuring to hear your take . Thanks! And amazing that you had the bravery and sense of adventure to travel solo. Yeah you!
Thanks Amanda. It’s amazing isn’t it, how we can be so brave one second, but almost paralysed with fear when it comes to something we love? I think it must be because we see it as more important in some way. And we’re scared of screwing it up. Which I’m sure could be yet another blog post! I’m glad this post spoke to you and grateful you reached out to tell me so! xx
We get paralysed because it means so much to us and we are afraid it won’t live up to our expectations…but sometimes it surpasses expectations too. Sometimes the things that are most important to us are also the scariest.