I knew my job would make greater demands on my time. The fall is a busy period. The saving grace is I like what I do and really enjoy the company of the people whom I work with. They’re the reason I have a hard time punching out at shift’s end.
The one thing I didn’t like about the longer and more hectic work days was the limited blocks of time it left me to write. Some days I’d get home with enough time to eat, feed the kitty, and hit the sack. Other days I was just too tired to write for any extended period of time. I felt like I'd stopped making progress.
That bothered me. But only for a little while. When I stopped and thought about it a couple of weeks ago, I realized I was still writing something every day. Some days it was a few short sentences for one of my novels. Other days it was a few lines giving shape to a new House Newf essay. It wasn’t much. But it was something. My writing still had a pulse.
The proof lay in the pages. The notebook that follows me everywhere I go is almost full. Flipping back through the pages revealed that I’d flesh out important sections of my second novel. Solid foundations for several House Newf essays had also been set. The filled-in pages showed me what I’d failed to realize: somehow, between the jigs and the reels, my writing was still getting somewhere. I hadn’t stopped climbing the mountain. I’d just forgotten to pause and take a look at how far I’d managed to climb.
You can’t always put your best foot forward. And if you can’t, don’t worry about it. Just keep going. Even small steps in the right direction are still steps in the right direction. Walking the path you want to walk, no matter the speed, is always a good thing. And sometimes taking your time is even better. Or as my mother always told me, ‘slow down, you’ll live longer.’
Some time ago I wrote about why it’s OK to quit. I still believe that. But I also believe there are times when you’ve just got to keep going. I’m in no position when to tell you to quit something or when to keep going. But a simple question can help:
Does the thing I’m grappling with suck the life out of me, or does it make me feel alive?
How you answer the question will help you decide what’s best.
If you decide to keep going with whatever it is you’re going with, realize several things. You’ll have tough days. Endure them knowing better ones will come. You’ll also have great days. Enjoy them, but be humble enough to know tough ones will come again. If you do great one day, great. If you’re shit the next day, that’s great too. I like exercising, so I’ll use that analogy. Who cares if your workout today wasn’t the best? What matters is that you did the workout. And every time you do it you’re doing something to improve your overall wellbeing. It doesn’t really matter how well you did it. All that really matters is that you’ve done something good for yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t improve every time you do something you care about. That goes for anything really. Drawing, painting, writing, playing music, sewing, model-building. Whatever. What matters is that you’re doing something that allows you become a fuller version of you.
I’ve realized that by simply keeping on, with even the tiniest ounce of momentum, I’m still moving in a direction I want to go. I’m happy just to know I’m doing things that let me be me. Even if it is only for a few minutes every day. Because in the end it’s not really about getting somewhere. It’s about walking a path that’s right for you, regardless of how fast you choose to travel.