The spider’s no bigger than the tip of my fingernail. I watch it dart haphazardly across the window, its opaque skin refracting light from the setting sun, making it glow like it’s cast deep in amber.
The arachnid pauses in the corner where the glass intersects with the aluminum frame. Its abdomen—pulsating to some unheard rhythm—points skyward. I imagine it’s eyeing me. Perhaps even in awe of the massive creature that sits before it.
No sooner did I finish the thought than the spider abandons its perch and resumes its journey to some mysterious destination; this window, its pathway. Perhaps I was nothing but a passing curiosity along its route.
Maybe I’m just not that impressive. I mean, once you’ve seen one human, you’ve seen them all, right?
“Shit!” I curse under my breath, clearing my eyes. Once again, I got distracted.
What in the hell was I going to write?
Now that we’ve settled down after spending two years on the road, I find it difficult to reintegrate into many facets of everyday life.
My wardrobe, for example, is a prominent one.
The reality is that I can’t wear shorts, torn jeans, or old, paint-stained t-shirts every day. Granted, Denver isn’t exactly a high-fashion hub, but “dressing up” needs to involve more than just taking a shower and grabbing any clean clothes I can get my hands on.
Scheduling is another.
Time moved at a different pace while traveling in the RV. Impromptu fish n’ chips at the beach, relocating hundreds of miles on a whim, staying off the grid in the backcountry for as long as we could stand; all of these were possible at the drop of a hat.
Now, though, our days are much more regimented, especially with the girls returning to public school.
My biggest challenge, though, is rekindling my creativity. Finding the impetus put words on the page outside of everyday work. More often than not, it just feels like a chore.
And I’m hard on myself when I fail to create. Crawling into bed at night, I feel like shit knowing that I’m one day closer to my death, but I didn’t have the perseverance to seize the moment and produce something creative. Anything.
Another opportunity missed.
If meditation and mindfulness—and lots of frustration while staring at a blank page—have taught me anything, though, it’s that I can’t force inspiration. Even if I manage to churn something out, it’ll inevitably be garbage.
Instead, I’ve recently learned the value of ‘beginning.’ Simply sitting down, typing whatever’s on my mind, and seeing where it takes me.
This way, I allow myself to create something inside a no-judgment zone without censoring myself before I even write a word. And it’s a tree that usually bears fruit.
What’s more, I’ve found that a ‘beginning’ mindset applies to so much more than just creativity. It’s also a potent tool I can use in just about every other aspect of life when I’m up against a wall.
More often than not, a solution lies on the other side of:
- Summoning the courage to jump in, feet first;
- Starting the work;
- Seeing where I land, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally.
On an even grander scale, I’ve learned that each breath I take represents an opportunity to begin anew; to consciously flow along the stream of perpetual change. Harnessing the present in this way gives me—all of us—the chance to experience rebirth every few seconds, and in whatever fashion we choose, without worrying about the past or future.
The catch is that ‘beginning’ won’t just come to us. Instead, we must be willing—not only to enter the stream but also to follow where it leads and stand tall in front of the truths it reveals.
The bottom line is that we can’t force creativity, but we also can’t sit around waiting for a spark of inspiration. Learning to stoke our fire is a skill that can take us to faraway places.
You know it’s there. Now, you just have to put in the work to dig it up.