Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure
than you ever will from something you never finished.” ~ Neil Gaiman
I closed my laptop and rested my hands on the lid. It was done. It had taken me 5 years.
Now that I had crossed the finish line, I sat for a moment and let every emotion come. Elation. Delight. Joy. Feelings of accomplishment. Pride. Relief.
Each feeling was delicious and transported me like a favorite meal. A profoundly satisfying completion of an open circle. At last, I had kept the promise to myself to do the thing that felt enormous, impossible; now that it was done, my completed ebook felt like a baby bird cupped in my hand, small and vulnerable.
No longer looming and threatening.
I said to my empty living room, “Remind me again why I made writing this into such a big deal?”
I thought back on each phase of my scaling the 30′ brick wall. Sure, the project was a bit complicated and required careful thought and execution. And then there was the fact that I had to birth something where nothing existed, coaxing it out of its chrysalis to daylight.
Those were not the reasons the project lay dormant during 5 winters and 5 springs.
When I got down to the soil, turned an ear to the ground, and pulled up the green shoots of procrastination, dangling off the tendrils was fear of judgment, visibility, and vulnerability. I had become so proficient in avoiding and hiding from sharing what I knew was my truth, that when I whistled for it to come, it turned and ran.
I imagine you, too, have such a project that you long ago tucked away into an unlabeled box in the attic. Just my alluding to it causes a searing pang of guilt and shame and longing.
Why are we are not rolling up our sleeves, getting going, and then finishing our passion projects? After all, our dreamy ideas fly to us every hour of the day and night, and motion for us to follow. Yet, we stand still and watch them zigzag into the clouds like a balloon released from a child’s fist.
I have a theory as to why we won’t gather our courage with focus and devotion and do the damn work. Oddly, when our idea exists only in our minds, it remains perfect, unspoiled, and possible. A rose behind the glass. Hiding behind a clear membrane, we see it in detail wearing a clean, white shirt and pressed slacks.
Unruffled and untested.
What happens if we go about the business of piercing that membrane, reaching in, and pulling our idea toward us? Not only do we worry that the idea is not that great, maybe even completely shitty, we also worry we are not up to the challenge of being the doula needed for the job.
And then there’s the truly horrifying thought: if we try and fail, we can no longer hold the dream in our minds and hearts, returning to it like a dog to its water dish when we are thirsty for the pulsing potential of our creative expression.
How about we reframe the idea or project from our having a focus on its endpoint and its sticky fear of judgment? Instead, we can decide to simply be curious, filled with wonder about this funny, little creature whispering to us to bring it to life.
We can envision whom we will become along the way, through the dusty trails, foreboding woods, and swampy mazes. What will we learn? What will we need to jettison? What new beliefs will replace our outdated and worn mindset?
We will fashion ourselves anew in the doing.
And as glorious as our ideas may be, and however magnificent the thing is that we ultimately create, the truly wondrous miracle will be our reconstituted DNA. The DNA of someone who did the thing we thought we could not do.
A person who chose the adventure, worn sneakers, and calloused palms over pristine protection.