You know, I just discovered that I spend way too much time waiting for perfection or inspiration or something external to spur me to write this blog. I wrote the first post in this series a little over two weeks ago. That’s an eternity of waiting to write the next installment. You see, I used to be a daily blogger—I wrote my “Lessons in Gratitude” blog every day for over three years—I wrote for 1,000 days, of which approximately 700 were consecutive. After that, I’ve written two 40-day blogs which were almost every day, and certainly never more than two or three days passed without my writing something.
So with little fanfare, I began this new series on waiting, with a loose focus on the season of Advent. And then, after two days, I dropped off. I simply didn’t have the bandwidth—time or energy—to have more than a hint of creative thought to craft into a comprehensible post. So, in some mortification and internal shame, I’ve let two whole weeks go by without nary a word. I simply couldn’t construct anything on my chosen them of waiting, so I waited (and waited) until I had some inspiration. And then it hit me: why am I waiting? If I constantly wait for inspiration, I will probably not write anything ever again.
I am a songwriter; I have been for over 40 years. And yet I continue to wait for inspiration before I write a song. I don’t pick up my guitar or my pad of paper to write because I’m not inspired by anything in particular. But what would happen if I simply picked up my instrument, without any particular idea or inspiration for what I was going to do, and just see what happens? Maybe for the first time in years I could write a song.
I’ve decided that waiting for inspiration is a poor use of my time, particularly when inspiration often comes after I’ve started the work, not before. In those 700-plus days of writing a daily blog, many times I sat on my bed with my laptop on my lap staring at the blinking cursor of death willing myself to come up with something to write about. Inevitably, after a time, something would come to me, and as I warmed up to the idea I ended up writing a reasonably good post. While some of my posts were inspired and created with great enthusiasm and energy, a great many of them were wrung out of me over time.
There are many times in our lives when we wait, and we have little choice but to do so. I daresay we spend a significant portion of our lives waiting. But when we have a choice, the opportunity to dive in and try something rather than waiting for it to be perfect or inspired or meet some nearly impossible standard that causes us to give up before we even try something, why wait? I have to believe that nothing’s lost by jumping in and seeing what happens. Often it turns out to be a pleasant surprise.
There’s a time and a place for waiting. In this season of waiting, of counting down the days until the celebration of the birth of Jesus or the break from work that some of us get for the holiday, perhaps it’s okay to give ourselves permission not to be constricted into thinking that something has to be a certain way, or come through a particular door, or focus on only one thing. That we don’t need to spend time waiting for that one thing to come into focus. That’s it’s okay not to wait for inspiration, but to simply dive in and let inspiration come along the way. It could be that what results is even better than what we might have produced if we’d waited.
I have no idea if I’ve achieved “success” with this post, as I’ve come to measure success. I can be amazingly self-critical. And I have no idea when I will post again. My original intention was to post daily or almost daily throughout these weeks of Advent. That hasn’t gone as planned, particularly as I had been waiting until I had enough energy to write something inspired and wonderful. Funny how that goes.
So let go, give up the waiting, and dive in.