Sitting in the Confusion

Photo: Lagos, Portugal

I feel confused a lot. So much so that a friend recently gave me the nickname “confused tree,” the tree part being a reference to my tallness. What am I confused about? That’s easy: pretty much everything.

I’m confused about what I really want in life, who I am, how I feel, and what I should be doing. I’m confused about the world around me and about what my place in it should be. I’m confused about why I’m even confused in the first place. There’s so much confusion that sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

Here’s a thought. Maybe the problem isn’t the confusion itself, but how I perceive it. I’ve always looked at confusion as a negative thing. I mean, nobody wants to be confused. It’s not a great feeling. And there are few things that feel better than having a clear sense of direction in life.

But what if the confusion is a good thing? What if it’s something to be embraced, celebrated even? I’m not really sure where I’m going with this thought, but it has occurred to me lately that there is a sense of joy that can come from just sitting in the confusion. When everything around us tells us to find answers, maybe there’s more pleasure to be found in the never-ending stream of questions.

My Mind

My mind likes to tell me…

  • Something is missing in this moment
  • There’s something wrong
  • It’s time to panic
  • I’ll never figure things out
  • I can’t be happy until x, y, and z
  • I’m not good enough
  • The future is something to fear
  • The past is something to hold on to
  • The present is something to avoid

My mind likes to tell me all those things and so much more.

I used to take it seriously. I used to let its words dictate my every emotion. But now I’m learning to listen to my mind and just…laugh. Because my mind is like a perpetually paranoid and overdramatic friend. It’s not trying to hurt me – it’s actually doing its best to protect me – but usually it has no idea what the hell it’s talking about. So I listen, breathe, and laugh….

 

Facing My Fear of Fiction

This may come as a shocker, but one of the main reasons I started this blog was because I love to write. However, when I was growing up my ambition was never to be a blogger. I wanted to be a novelist.

Blessed with a passion for reading, the first time ambitions of becoming a novelist crossed my mind was after finishing the third of fourth Harry Potter novel. I remember being absolutely entranced by the world J.K. Rowling created and amazed that I could be transported into it through the mere act of reading words.

It wasn’t just Harry Potter, though. While I admired Rowling’s ability to create a magical world that felt so real, I also became captivated by the way so many authors had perfected the craft of writing. The eloquent prose of Jane Austen. The terse but vivid descriptions given by Hemmingway. The work of authors who could, through the use of words, turn even the most ordinary scenario into something memorable. The more I read, the more I felt the desire to craft my own beautiful prose.

Despite my fascination with both the craft of writing and the stories that come from it, I never gave my dreams of becoming a novelist a real shot. Every now and then I would have a surge of inspiration and try to create a story outline or even write a few paragraphs, but those moments were always short-lived. I never felt like my ideas were good enough or that I had the ability to write a cohesive story. Even more than that, I was scared that my dreams of becoming a writer would stay just that: dreams. I looked at all the authors that had inspired me and felt like there was no way I could ever come close to them. I was scared that I would try to do it and fail miserably.

Following the Fear

In the book “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield talks about how strong feelings of resistance (fear) are usually signals pointing us in the direction we need to go. As someone who is deathly scared of spiders, I have a hard time believing that I want more eight-legged monsters in my life, but I do think there’s some truth in that idea, especially when it comes to the fear of failure. And in the case of writing, it’s clear to me that my fear is secondary to my feeling of passion. Unfortunately, I’ve just let the fear stop me from really acting on that passion.

Now that I recognize this, I’m going to start exploring the world of writing fiction. I’ll start small, of course. Maybe a short story every week or something like that. The important thing for me is that I be willing to dive into the fear, to take a chance and see where this desire to write can take me.