“Jump! Jump!” Screams reach my ears and the shaking in my legs gets worse. I want to back up and crawl off the high dive board. But an impatient crowd of bathing suit clad divers stands in my way. I close my eyes and fall into the gapping maw of the pool. This childhood memory is alive in my body.
Rumbling around inside of me is the desire to write another book. Ignoring it is becoming harder. Like that line of divers, my inner voices keeps saying, “Do it!” But paying attention to its pleas is dangerous. Writing a book gobbles up days, causes me to forego social events and drags me into questions I just as soon avoid. Exclaiming my intention, to write another book, makes me edgy, like standing at the edge of a diving board edgy.
The space between wanting to freeze and wanting to jump is interesting. How we face the panic, hesitancy and restlessness in this zone of “to act” or “not to act” is a dilemma we confront throughout our lives.
A friend tells me her closets are never more organized than when she decides to write a book. Each time she prepares to begin her book, a messy closet catches her eye. That makes sense. Closets have a start, finish and a clear result. The things we are reluctant to begin often do not.
This is what I know for sure: Disquiet is a first step in self-discovery. Hesitation, uncertainty, a desire to go forward and backwards all live in the gap between action and inaction. We are readying ourselves for a transition. Something is moving into our awareness that is not fully formed. We’re being asked to fling ourselves into the unknown and land we know not where.
Vacillation makes sense.
Engaging restlessness is a skill. And it something we can learn. The first step is to name it. “I’m feeling restless.” My second step is to stop distracting myself with food, unsatisfying screen time, wine, unnecessary tasks, etc. We all have our favorites. Then I start a journaling conversation with restlessness. I might start with a question like this; “Restlessness what is it you want me to pay attention to?”
When I sit with restlessness it opens a channel inside of me. Twisted and bumpy this channel digs through what I know and takes me into uncomfortable truths. “I am afraid of failing so I don’t start.” “I am not sure where this new direction might take me.” These messages are waiting under the restlessness and when I acknowledge them they seem less powerful.
So here I go. I am ready to start this new book. Here is how I begin; “Come sit by me restlessness. Let me hear what it is you want to say.”
I wonder what would happen if you listened to your restlessness.
Where might it take you?
Photo Credit: Clemens V. Vogelsang