Life is messy – but you’ve gotta love the challenge!

Ever since Christmas last year, I’ve been consciously taking a refuge in reading. It’s the only thing that actually helps in forcing my mind to stop all the chattering and relax for a bit.

I’m feeling very lucky though, because I absolutely love reading!

I can read a book in a heartbeat.
I’m a firm believer that reading affects our writing, especially enriching our vocabulary. So, I copy passages that especially touched my heart, acquire knowledge and discover new things, analyze, interpret and appreciate those written words.
And when I’m really lucky, I find answers to questions I never even knew I had.

‘Bird by bird’ is my favorite book for this year as of yet, and this is one of the passages which caught my attention and keeps popping up in my mind.

“ What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here – and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.”
~ Anne Lamott

I love how honest and true it rings.
Because let’s face it, most of us grew up learning how to do everything right – how not to color outside the lines, not to leave food on the plate, not to think of ourselves first, not to break the rules, not to step off the beaten path, not to make messes and mistakes, not to write about that particular embarrassing family holiday for our English composition homework because it’s private, and so on.

When in fact, doing (well, trying to at least) everything right only wears us down; perfectionism is tiring.
Coloring outside the lines makes us unique with a different vision than others’.
Leaving food on our plates means we’re done for right now, but we’ll eat again when we’re hungry.
Thinking of ourselves first isn’t selfish, but necessary and makes us happier so we can make the people around us happier.
Braking the right set of rules which don’t work for us sets us free to do something we love.
Stepping off the beaten path will lead us to find and especially to make our own way to where we need to go and not somewhere other people envision us to go.
Making messes and mistakes may set us one step back, or even more steps back… but we need to make mistakes in order to find out who we aren’t.
And finding out who we aren’t helps us find out who we are and why we’re here. There is no better way to learn and to grow.

And, by extension – with a little imagination and a lot of courage we can write about that particular embarrassing family holiday even if it feels like it’s private; because we’re writers and that’s what we do.
We’ll change names, setting and character descriptions, we’ll enhance specific traits and leave out others, we can even call it fiction; no one has to know it was a true story.
Maybe it won’t work, maybe it will be boring. Maybe we’ll rewrite it and it still won’t work. We’ll write something else.
Maybe we’ll write and rewrite a lot of stories which won’t work. They’ll challenge us!
But after writing them, we’ll know. We’ll get there.
We’ll know what we’re supposed to be writing.

Now I’ll close this post with another quote since I’m at it, which I also love and goes so well with this post’s theme.

“ When I’m not afraid to fail, I won’t. When I’m not afraid to fall down, falling down won’t feel like failure. I have fallen down enough to get more comfortable with it, to know how productive it can be, how necessary it is to growth. Still, when I sense the ground beneath me giving way, I have to remind myself that it’s OK if I falter.
I have to remind myself that it’s more than OK!”
~ Jan Denise


9 Comments to “Life is messy – but you’ve gotta love the challenge!”

  1. Thinking out of the box makes us unique and wonderful, right?

  2. All I can say is “WOW”! I’ve been feeling and believing all these things for quite a few years now…but it never hurts to be reminded….and something I feel like I particularly needed right at this very moment!! You have inspired me, Estrella!!
    And I LOVE the book, “Bird by Bird”. I need to read a paragraph or two from it every single morning! (and to think I almost didn’t buy it because I thought it had a dumb title and how could it possibly be about WRITING?! :)

  3. Sometimes it is so difficult to forget about doing things perfectly. Life isn’t school, we aren’t getting grades!

  4. No perfect over here. I gave up on perfect years ago, and I’ve been happier ever since. Coloring outside the lines is more fun because you never know what you’re going to end up with. And as far as falling down, unfortunately I fall down way too much. Literally. I’m always sliding down the stairs on my backside.

    But, yes, I know you meant to be metaphorical, and I agree with all of it. I’ve been crafting all day and feel in a wicked little mood! I guess your package didn’t come yet. I’m worried a bit, but I have the receipt for the delivery. If it doesn’t come soon, I’ll start tracking it. Have a wonderful day. Patsye

  5. This post is superb Estrella.

    The title captured my immediate attention, made me reflect and finally nod in full agreement.

    I love the way you had written this post. It made me reflect as it relates very well with me. “Thank You.”.

    Meanwhile, I am looking forward to view more great posts from your site. !!!

  6. I really love this post.
    I can’t even think of a comment…

  7. Rules…

    My Dad said to me once, “you need to be able to break even your *own* rules, it keeps you flexible.”

    A big believer in remaining flexible, my Dad. Because life isn’t black or white, but a whole flexible, and messy, array of colo(u)rs far too vibrant to fit within the lines.

    I have to admit, sometimes I hate the challenge. Sometimes it feels too hard. But, it isn’t. It’s just hard – sometimes. And, sometimes, it isn’t. And we write about it, as you say. We tell stories about it. To let others know that it’s hard, and then it isn’t hard. And even when it is, we survive, we get through it, we grow.

    I love the book, “Bird by bird”. It’s a good, practical handbook for living, let alone writing.

  8. I’m glad you liked the post this much, and thanks for taking the time to comment as well :)

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