Last week, I made a conscious effort to find a new place to walk and a different coffee shop in which to write. I usually use the elliptical at the gym or walk in a nearby forest preserve path. Similarly, I write at the local Panera. The booths are comfy, iced tea refills are free and they have outlets and free wi-fi. Everything about these walking/writing routines struck me as dry and boring.
I set out to find the lake. Not a small local lake…I was looking for Lake Michigan. I knew it was less than 10 miles from my house in the Chicago suburbs, but unless I was having a touristy day in the city, I rarely venture there. Considering my love of the water both salt and fresh, the stupidity of this hit me as I was in my car driving to my usual walking spot (driving to walk may strike you as stupid but…oh, nevermind).
Within minutes, I was standing on the pebble-strewn shore of the lake breathing in the air as I listened to the waves break. I wasn’t sure how far I’d walk as it was unfamiliar territory. I noticed all the shiny, smooth rocks embedded in the sand and decided to go just a little farther.
Last year (on a new adventure), I met this wonderful writer lady who collects heart-shaped things. I don’t know her well but we spent time together at a writing retreat and I was impressed by her warmth and positive outlook. She posts beautiful pictures of the heart-shaped objects she finds often accompanied by kind, generous and uplifting thoughts.
After we met, without meaning to, I began searching for heart-shaped things. Leaves, rocks, you name it, I’ve searched for them high and low usually without much luck. Most days, when I remember to pay attention, I find vaguely amoeba-shaped blobs that if I squint right and cast a shadow might pass as hearts…wounded ones.
The beach was strewn with pebbles, boulders and stones and I couldn’t seem to find one true heart shape among them. Like my inner writing gremlin, I began telling myself maybe I just wasn’t qualified. Maybe I didn’t have the inner stuff required to see something unique in nature’s debris. I wasn’t as nice as the heart lady. I wasn’t as “spiritual,” whatever that means.
On my writing journey over the past year I believed I was immune to writer’s block and determined I would not let my doubts keep me from taking action. For the first time in over a year, I’ve gone almost an entire week without working on my WIP. Still, I don’t think it was really a block – I never sat down to work on it. I’m not sure why but I’m back today. I’m pushing on.
Maybe we’re not meant to analyze why we get stuck or why we lack confidence. Maybe we’re just supposed to push on. Just like that day at the beach. I decided to go past where I was comfortable. The heart shapes were there all along, beyond my comfort zone.