Taking your own advice
Taking your own advice
The other day my brother dropped 2 cords of firewood in my driveway.
Though I appreciate the free firewood the problem is I have to haul the firewood, piece by piece, from the driveway to the deep corner of our backyard to 3-walled, roofed hut where the firewood is kept dry.
The process is simple: fill the wheelbarrow with firewood, push the wheelbarrow across the yard to the firewood hut, unload the firewood, and do it again.
A suburban Sisyphus–if you will.
Beside the obvious logistical problem, it’s hard, physical work and it’s August and it’s soupy outside and quite frankly–I don’t want to do it.
So the other day my youngest son Dylan and I were outside looking at the pile of firewood when he asked, “Dad, how are you going to move all of that wood into the backyard?”
“Well, I’m going to have to do it piece by piece.”
“Dad, that’s going to take forever.”
So for past few days I’ve been loading the wheelbarrow with firewood and pushing it across the back yard to the firewood hut. Progress has been slow but I’m making progress nonetheless.
But apparently the other day my daughter Haley told Cindy that it didn’t look like I moved any of firewood to which Cindy responded “Don’t tell your father that.”
My writing room is above the firewood pile in the driveway.
It’s 9:45 pm on Monday and I convince myself again I can’t write a book.
It’s too hard. Too complicated. Too many pages. Too much research.
Too much of everything.
Doubt had yanked the pull-cord of my mind again and I was humming.
I’m not good enough.
I’m not smart enough.
No one is going to read this.
Who am I to write this book?
I don’t have an MFA or a PhD or live in New York City. I’m just a high school english teacher who lives in the suburbs and drives an 11 year old car.
When tasks present challenges we have an amazing, uniquely-human ability to self-destruct. We panic, lose our breathe, and quickly press play to the negative feedback loop we have cued in our minds.
I slam the laptop shut and stand up.
I don’t know what to do.
I debate whether to sit down, open the laptop and begin writing again or turn on the TV, sink into the couch and watch reruns of The Office.
I’m not a quitter but who am I to write a book?
I move to the window and look below at the pile of firewood in the driveway and think about what I told Dylan earlier that day about how I was going to move the firewood “piece by piece”.
And I realize, standing framed in the writing room window, whether you’re moving firewood or writing a book or trying to lose weight– that’s how you improve. Piece by piece, page by page, exercise by exercise.
I shake my head and move from the window back to my desk, sit down, open my laptop, and begin writing again.
For me, writing is a lot like filling a wheelbarrow with firewood. It’s not pretty. It’s dirty and physical and unglamorous work but it must be done.
I guess, sometimes the best thing you can do–is to not only listen your own advice–but have the courage to take it.
So I’ll ask you–what if you took your own advice? What if the advice you offered to others is actually the advice you seek? If you applied to your advice to your own life would you be more productive, happier, healthier, etc.?
Leave a message in the comments or email me your thoughts at writeonfighton@com, and of course, I encourage you to share this post with someone who might enjoy it.
Do you want to do more with your life?
If you’re like me and we need some reminding to appreciate present moments, to not dwell on the past, and the chance to live a good life is now.
A few weeks ago I created a pebble jar, or in my case, a poker chip jar and for the the last for weeks I’ve been carrying around a poker chip in my poker. Find out why in What is a pebble jar and why you should have one
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