After years of procrastination, I had finally started my blog and the first post was perfect. Everything made sense, while flowing eloquently and beautifully. I was proud of it, and wasn’t overcome with my usual frustration about something subtle with the tone, or the ending, or the whole topic itself that would cause me to throw my hands up in the air and start all over again.
In it, I had written about why we put off doing the things we know we should do. And why the things that we do instead, or the reasons we give for our procrastination, are almost always stupid and unimportant in comparison. And yet we continue to carry on in mediocrity. We continue to scroll mindlessly through the timelines of other peoples’ lives while failing to live our own. We shake our heads at the thought of doing something extraordinary, and then we punish ourselves for even considering that we could expect the extraordinary. We don’t call that friend back. We don’t write that letter. We don’t paint that painting. We don’t sing that song. We don’t quit that thing– whatever it is– that we know we ought to quit.
And why? Because we’re afraid of the pain that comes with doing something real and meaningful. Pain as simple as getting out of bed or pain as harsh and bitter as ending a relationship. And so when that little voice tells us what we ought to do, we drown it out with any noise that will give us the lukewarm peace of being normal.
But then, to our surprise, that little voice occasionally gets fed up, rises like a mighty bear, and roars angrily in our face. It stuns us into seeing what our lives could be if we were what we should be. These are the moments when we can see the ideal and we know the implication. We know that there’s no sense in ever being ordinary again. We know that we must do something real, something significant. We must love. We must speak. We must sing. We must do those things that we’re not doing because we’re too afraid to– those things that lift us from mediocrity to the Heavens, to the fairies, to the angels, to that which makes life worthwhile and meaningful.
I had finally done one of the things I was supposed to do. I had spoken up. I had written my first post for this blog. I had conquered the stupid fear about whether people would even read it or not. I had ignored the whiny part of me complaining that I don’t understand web design, and hadn’t decided on a name. And then, my post disappered without being saved! I was so mad and spent the next five minutes yelling at the computer. And in my fury I almost shut down the computer and quit. But then I had to laugh at my inclination and how contrary it was to everything I had just written. Not every moment will be perfect or clear, but once we’ve seen with clarity, we can’t pretend we haven’t.
So here it is, my second draft. I still wish I had the better first one, because I’m an idealist. But I’m too much of an idealist to quit because of it. Now on to copying and pasting this into a separate document, in case it disappears again, because I don’t need another reason to procrastinate.
There are degrees in idealism. We learn first to play with it academically, as the magnet was once a toy. Then we see in the heyday of youth and poetry that it may be true, that it is true in gleams and fragments. Then, its countenance waxes stern and grand, and we see that it must be true.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson