Promises to Ourselves Are the Most Important to Keep
I made a goal on New Year’s Eve to write 750 words (roughly three pages) every day. Either in my notebook or here on the blog or in a lengthy email. Something to just create on a more consistent basis. Tonight I am regretting it.
George Constanza, in a Seinfeld episode, complains that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. Jerry, in all his casual brilliance, tells George that “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” My life isn’t exactly the opposite of what I want it to be but it isn’t exactly the way I want it to be either. If everything I’ve been doing has gotten me to where I am, well then, the opposite must get me a different place.
You see, I’m not a lazy lady by habit. I’ve got some ambition, I’ve got some skill and talent. But, I often just go far enough and not past it; I don’t go for the gold, as they say. I’ve been wondering what happens if I stop watching all the things on YouTube, cut out my horrible evening television gluttony, as well as the ridiculous morning news all-you-can-eat buffet (honestly, I turn WBZ 4 on at 4:30 in the morning and just let it run until CBS This Morning comes on at seven; granted, I’m usually doing something more on the computer but my focus is often split).
The great artists of any time—whether they’re writers or musicians or directors or poets or painters—must have something they need to get out that’s more important than their lazy selves. I feel like I have something important to say, something to share with this world but how am I going to get it out when it’s buried under all the filth of consumption? The people I watch on YouTube, like Casey Neistat or Peter McKinnon or Gone With The Wynns, are constantly creating. They don’t sit in front of their screens wishing for things to be different (like—ahem—someone I know). They just do it.
I am tired of allowing myself to be excused. Truthfully, I’m disgusted by it. Time keeps marching by no matter what we do to fill that time. I’ll be forty this year (have I brought this up before?). If you think about it and do some quick napkin math, I’m probably halfway through my life. My youth is over. My time to make excuses is gone. I might have twenty years left of really great health. When I’m eighty, will I look back at this time and think, Thank God I just kept writing. Thank God I just got out of that chair and did it all? Or, will I look back and think, What a waste of a life. I’m not ready to die?
So, something must change. The lowest barrier for now is to keep the promise I made to myself at the start of this year. 750 words. Every day. No excuses. Discipline equals freedom (I can’t take credit for that. That was Jocko Willink). Even when I’m tired. Even when I’m sick. Even if I have absolutely nothing to say on that particular day. Even when the words I do write aren’t worthy of anyone else’s eyes.
By the end of this year, I will have written at least 273,750 words. Enough words to hopefully figure out a few things, discover something new about myself and the world, and maybe have a direction as to where to go next.
And, if none of that happens? If I just write 273,750 words without any insight or epiphany? If all I have to show for it are spent pens and notebooks sitting on a bookshelf? Well, then, at least I will have kept a record of the past year. A way to look back and see just what happened. My writing will have to get better, won’t it?
It’s the year I turn forty. Isn’t this the year where I begin to question my life, my purpose and then actually do something about it? Maybe I’ll find some hot twenty-something to take to bed and recapture some of my youth, eh? Now there’s something to write about.