Friday, March 17, 2006

Of Forks and Roads

I feel the urge to write, but I haven’t got anything pressing to write about. I’ve been staring at my iBook’s screen for a minute or two waiting for some inspiration to hit me – something profound to light up the page. Alas, nothing. So why then, you may ask, am I writing this? Good question and one that will be the subject of the day. Profundity is just around the corner…

It is not uncommon for me to draw a blank when there is nothing of major consequence going on in my life. Regular readers may say, “Hold on, aren’t you working on a bachelors degree? Didn’t you name this blog in deference to the unusual path the last 25 years has taken you? What about the insights, the revelations and the epiphanies?” All true and exciting still, but the novelty, at least in this moment, has worn off. I am not as amazed as I once was. That can and probably will change, but right now, I feel just a little blah.

It sounds a little bit like I am starting to take my recent good fortune for granted. If there is anything that I have learned from my history of successive boom/bust cycles, it is that complacency is an early harbinger of doom. It is the beginning of a progression that leads to feelings of superiority, entitlement, ingratitude, resentment and finally, total and complete self-destruction. It is a road I’ve been down before and one that I’m bound to take again if I don’t proactively prevent it.

So I start off writing with no idea where it will lead me. All I had was an urge with no inspiration, a desire – perhaps it was discomfort. I very well may have confused this uneasiness with some gut level drive or perhaps it is two sides of the same coin. The point, I guess, is that there are many avenues for this emotional energy to manifest itself, not all are positive or, as I know all too well, constructive.

Writing, for me, is an expenditure of energy. Some would call it emotional or mental energy; others may refer to it as spiritual energy. Call it what you will, I am not concerned with semantics. What I am concerned with is not allowing history to repeat itself and – here is the profound part – just by doing this simple exercise, I have already averted disaster. Right now! I am taking measures that won’t do anything to change this moment (I’ll be in pretty much the same place in five minutes as I am right now), but at the same time it has done everything to change it. There is a fork in the road that I am trying to negotiate. Just past the fork, the path will have changed little but down the road – there may be no turning back.

This technique of preventative maintenance works for me and it has become habit. I did not think or realize that the early symptoms of complacency were a great big red flag. Indeed, it was only because I write every day that I sat down to compose anything. I was not looking for answers; I thought I had it pretty good. And I still do – this is why. If I don’t write I don’t think. There is no way I could have processed this feeling through by sitting around doing nothing because I have nothing to do. Now, even before I have finished, I’m energized, grateful, humble, patient and inspired all over again.

I have heard it said that we can start our day over at anytime. This advice is usually given when one is experiencing a “bad” day. It is a tool that is used to regroup, to hit the reset button and get centered again. It is about perception and how we feel affects our reality. The problem, in my experience, is that once a day is bad, it’s next to impossible to change it midstream. However, if a day is not “bad,” but not “good” either, it can be pushed one way or the other quite easily. Guess which way I’m pushing today?


Bar L. said...

Mike, for having nothing to write about that sure was an inspiring post! I can relate to much of it - especially the need to write to use energy and the need to set the restart button when my day goes "astray".

(I love Robert Frost)

Saur♥Kraut said...

And this is why it would be nicer if you lived closer so we could meet for coffee and bagels and ruminate over the early morning.


Michael K. Althouse said...

bar bar a ~ I discovered some time ago that if I just start writing something - even if it's that I have nothing - something always comes. And that still amazes me.

saur ~ I could think of no better way to start any day! But hey, it's only about 3000 miles! And... didn't McClatchy just buy Knight-Ridder? And isn't the Miami Herald a Knight-Ridder paper? And doesn't McClatchy own the Sac Bee? And am I not an up-and-coming journalist with freedom to move? You just never know where life may take you!!

JR said...

I navigated through forks and down roads through four degrees. My motivation was the next grade, the next semester, the next degree, the next hurdle, the first job. Now I seem to have run out of roads. I keep looking around, thinking I should be satisfied, now that I'm where I worked for over ten years to get to, but I keep looking for another road, another fork, for something. I need to find another journey. I only feel like I'm alive and accomplishing something when I have a set goal. I haven't found a new goal. I feel like I'm bobbing in the ocean and have forgotten how to effect change. *sigh* Okay, sorry about that, late night ramble.

Michael K. Althouse said...

vv ~ It sounds as though you are trapped by what I just escaped from. I believe we are all here for a purpose, but sometimes it seems to be eluding us. For me, it was right under my nose the whole time - I was just too close to realize it, I guess. I had to downsize everything to daily segments. By focusing on the now, I have been able to string a pretty good run or serenity together. Don't give up!


neal said...

Mike-I took a writing class in the Air Force once and the instructor told us about something he called 'free style' writing. He said if you hit a period of writers block you should just start putting words onto paper. The process of doing so will cause the brain to form a train of thoughts that eventually lead to something worthwhile.

I don't have the ability to see the forks in my life that will lead one way or another. I do know that some choices can lead to irreversable paths you have to take. Some choices you just shrug off. I always seem to have luck in making the right choices on the bigger decisions. I guess my moral compass is still working.

On days when I feel the blahs and I don't know exactly what to do I have one solution...A GOOD NAP. It almost is like starting a day over. There have been days I feel unmotivated and just kind of lazy. When I take a nap and wake up later I always seem to find some inspiration to do something useful around the house.

I still wish that I could write as well as you even though I have nothing to write about.

UltimateWriter said...

Borrowing a quote from Yankee legend Yogi Berra: "If there's a fork in the road, take it."

Lee Ann said...

start off writing with no idea where it will lead me, is like life itself.
I think so much about the turns in life I have taken. If I had made a different decision at that one certain point in time, where would I be now, what would I be doing?
It is amazing to think about things like that.
Haha, sorry, I got off of your subject. You are thought provoking though. :)

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I agree with bar bar a.

Sometimes when we think we have nothing to say, we impart the most wisdom on ourselves and others.

You truly have a great knack for good writing.

Ellen said...

(amazing.... blogger finally let me into your site after forbidding me for two days....AARRGG!)

Anyhoo~ I enjoyed this post as much as I enjoy all your posts! I even found much inspiration in all the comments. I could read through each one and say, yeah, that's what I do, or yeah, I've been there. It just shows me that if I keep my eyes and mind open, something out there will inspire me...whether I want to comtemplate it or write about it. You just had a better way to clarify it for me.

For me, the best part of my path has been to meet some of the most intelligent down to earth people I've met through blogging. Heck... I'd like to meet all of you for coffee someday..... as I still have much to learn, and have enjoyed the experience offered forward so far.

Lacey said...

"If I don’t write I don’t think."

Wow did that one hit home for me.

I've been feeling very similar things lately... Trying to shake that feeling of wanting to sleep through life is a battle more easily forgotten than fought. You have encouraged me though to actually see that fight. Sometimes, it's hard to name.

Incidentally and very anecdotally, my best friends' toilet is a Throne of Creativity. It has never failed me yet.