It’s 4:40 a.m. on Thursday morning and I am absolutely terrified.
Because I’m staring at a blank sheet of paper and time is ticking. This piece, however or whatever it turns out to be about, needs to be finished by 7 a.m.
The longer I spend thinking about whether or not this is going to suck, the less time I have to write something that actually doesn’t suck.
Truth be told, I’m not a very creative person. My piece topics are usually inspired by events that happen in my daily life.
Maybe I walk past a Roy Hobbs baseball tournament and see guys 70 years old playing the game that I love. To see the purest expression of baseball, in my eyes, may inspire me to write about the great metaphor I see between the game and life (coming soon by the way!).
Or it’s quite possible that a conversation in the training room (rehabbing another surgery -_-) sparks a topic I want to flesh out further, namely moderation is for cowards. Forget about moderation.
I tried to write those pieces. They never got off the ground. If only I had a typewriter in my head during the moment of inspiration. Thoughts were free flowing, I was feeling good about the ideas ruminating in my head and there was confidence that I was going to deliver the piece in such a manner that you all but had to share it with your friends 🙂
But then it stopped. The moment I went to put words to paper, to transform idea potential into the actual, inspiration dissipated. Like a thief in the night, my flow became nonexistent. My words cluttered, outlines blurred, and any hope for delivering to you something awesome went all but out the window.
So what happens when you stare at a blank sheet of paper with time ticking away and no inspiration like this fine morning? What options do I have?
I have all but one.
I write not because 7 a.m. is a hard deadline by any stretch of the imagination. Show Me Strength doesn’t get Facebook traffic. Not yet anyway. A few hundred people may read it. Whether I finish in time will not result in me going viral.
Maybe this piece gets shared a few times, not because my expose on why the unknown is beautiful is enlightening by any means, but because it’s enjoyable to share in my pain of procrastination that is currently 423 words deep at the moment.
To revel in the idiocy that is leaving writing until the morning of.
I write terrified of what the outcome will be. Maybe the editor of the New York Times won’t have to ok this piece before I hit that little indiscriminate button “publish.” I only have to judge the pieces worth and even if it sucks, I will hit publish because my mom, girlfriend, and sister will read it no matter what… maybe?
So what’s the point? Why did I just ruminate about a yet to be written blog to set the frame for the beauty of the unknown? Is the unknown actually beautiful?
I can’t answer that.
I can only tell you that most people see a blank canvas and run as fast as humanly possible in the other direction. The painting is never completed because the artist is too afraid to paint the first stroke.
It is the best representation of the unknown that I know of and for most individuals, the unknown is absolutely terrifying.
It should be.
It is not easy to walk to the highest cliff in your life, look below into the vast unknown, and jump.
I reckon it to the experience of a young child the first time it jumps into the ocean. The water may not be too rough but it is a terrain too big for the child to traverse. The unknown awaits the child. Will it hurt? Will this be the most enjoyable experience of my life? Will this jump, this tiny leap of faith, spring a love for the ocean that grooms this child to be a marine biologist?
I can’t answer that.
All I can tell you is that the child jumps unafraid, unaware of the unknown that lies ahead. Childhood innocence is blinding. It is not aware of suffering, of pain, of the unknown that lies within the unknown.
But I tell you to jump. You are older. Gone is your childhood innocence. It’s what makes the road difficult. To acknowledge all your fears, all your inhibitions, all your doubts, and jump anyways.
It’s what makes the road beautiful.
You will fail. You will struggle. You will hurt. You will have moments of unrelenting jubilation. You will feel more alive than you’ve ever felt in your life.
I promise you.
It’s what happens in the unknown. To struggle is to live. To fight for something that matters to you is to awaken the soul.
What the unknown is cannot be pinpointed. It is fluid, dynamic, taking a new shape for each individual.
It may be big, it may be small, but the unknown is always present. The road less traveled never ceases to be available to us.
But it is just that. The road less traveled. The road that could lead to somewhere beautiful or it could lead to nowhere.
It is not safe. It is not for the faint of heart. The unknown is for the brave soul, the individual that searches the very depths of their heart to find what they love and they go.
Fear is not absent. Fear is very real, yet it fuels our quest. The unknown cannot be tackled with painless indifference.
You need love, you need hatred, you need to fear something with every cell in your body because as Steven Pressfield says, “the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
Search for your unknown. And when you find it, don’t think, jump. Logic paralyzes us from stepping into the unknown. Humans are very good at talking ourselves out of something we don’t want to do. It is an instinct that kept us alive through millions of years of evolution.
I’m telling you to override it. I’m telling you that you will never feel more alive than if you run to the cliff and jump boldly. Jump not without fear, but with the childhood innocence that you will be able to traverse the waters no matter how rough.
Regardless of how long you stand atop that cliff, overlooking the vast unknown, you jump.
Because the first words are always written when you jump. If not, you will stare at a blank canvas for the rest of your life, forever unaware of the potential beauty behind your words, your road less traveled.