I’ve started plenty of things that I never finished. I’ve quit jobs. I’ve prematurely shared my grandiose ideas with others, because it sounded better than “I actually have no idea.” I’ve made decisions quickly and changed my mind at double the speed.
I would see others who stayed – in jobs, in relationships, in cities. They’d stay so beautifully still, I wished to be just like them. Why did I keep questioning and yearning and deciding and un-deciding and quitting and moving? One night I remember whispering a polite little prayer to whoever may have been listening – Please, please just make me still.
My prayer was answered, for some time. I managed to stay still for about 18 months, long enough to save money. In 2016, I quit my job to travel. I’m grateful to have the privilege and freedom of flight. I was doing the thing that you do according to many articles out there – quit and leap! I went out in dramatic fashion, leaving a trail of glittery rainbow confetti, but beneath the theatrics of it all, there lived years of naive, romantic notions of what it really took to sustain such a leap.
I went to Nepal. I isolated myself, I was frozen. I didn’t write as much as I should’ve, or could’ve. I started talking to an old flame from back home. He always knew the right things to say, and I knew the right things to say to him to get him to say the right things. During our conversations my best Self would put on an impressive performance. I knew him well enough to know that this was the side of me he preferred. My not so best, honest Self, I would keep shelved, bookmarked to revisit later in the inevitable company of my lonesomeness. It was contrived, temporary, hollow, just a convenient distraction.
Later, in NYC, even through the distractions, is when my unavoidable truth would arrive. I connected with the most supportive, talented, honest, and curious humans. They had quit more than they’d started, questioned everything and changed their jobs and minds over and over again. They were constantly moving, trying, failing, pushing, questioning, evolving, on repeat. They were like me, but with one striking difference – they were working on creating and working fucking hard.
I remember the exact moment it arrived. I was visiting the force that is Jenny, a sculptor, an artisan, just radiating magic. She took me up to her studio. To be able to afford this space she had to work various jobs, day and night. Balancing what she needed to do, she would make the time, show up at her studio, and continue doing what she knew she must, create.
It was almost midnight, when I left her studio and got into a Lyft, sharing what was most of my ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn with an overtly friendly Canadian who loved my Australian accent and just wanted to talk. It arrived out of nowhere, in that back seat, my truth, unencumbered, finally free from years of naivety and romanticism. With full force, it knocked the bullshit right out of me. I had to do everything to not shatter all over that beautiful Canadian man.
This was my truth –
I was a “writer” that hardly wrote. I was not putting in the work, no where near enough of the work required.
It has taken me over two years to write the above.
My gut told me to return home, so I did, 6 months earlier than I had planned and budgeted for. I’m so glad I did.
I have since come to realise, that up until now, I’ve had an unscrupulous relationship with my creativity. I gave very little of anything and expected magic in return. I thought of my creativity as my knight in shining armour. One fine day, while I’d be doing nothing, it would just arrive. It would scoop me up out of the pits of my creative sludge and whisk me away – away from my own bullshit, away from Doubt and Fear. We’d ride off, until we reached the edge, where I could finally confirm that yes the grass is definitely greener. On this other side, we’d make a light filled home where no indoor plants ever died, and abundant inspiration and ‘plenty to show for it’ lived.
Over the years, I have delved in so much material across mediums telling me that creativity is indeed work, so you’d think I’d know better. But it seems, it took me quitting, leaping, and rupturing inside that Lyft with the unsuspecting lovely Canadian, for those seeds to finally cultivate into my knowing.
Creativity is magic. When it’s there, I know it, I see it. It’s as if I’m in the presence of a higher yet deeper Self, a presence I respect, admire, and worship. I’m always grateful for its arrival.
But creativity isn’t just magic, it’s work. Hard work and ongoing practice.
My creativity arrives, only when I create the space. There’s no room for it when I’m on my sixth back to back episode of the day, or deep in a YouTube spiral – my last one was on “feeders”, people who take pleasure in overfeeding others.
When I turn up, so does creativity. Mine doesn’t live up high on some mountain overlooking the Ganges, or in cities that never sleep. It’s here, it lives in me – it is wherever I am.
I seem to forget this, I can’t forget this.
So here I am. I’ve been working on this piece for over four days, making time and turning up. Battling the beast that is resistance. I settle in and begin to write, only to realise that I definitely need a cup of tea. I sit down, and oh, I’ll light some candles. I try again, and 20 mins in, I decide that I need a plant in my room. When I return home after having purchased said plant, I get back to writing. Back to it, back to it, back to it.
Today, I’ve made this commitment:
- I will show up to work and be punctual about it.
- I will be a loyal, reliable employee.
- I will always remind myself, that the guts, glory and magic of creating something of my own, is in the hard work I put into it.
I don’t need rescuing. I just need to work.