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Latent Lollygagger: Upside-down Life

I am thinking this morning about motivation.

Perhaps because I lingered over coffee, breakfast, news, finding evil hungry caterpillars on cabbage leaves, email, Twitter, reading what I wrote by hand yesterday, my calendar, the crossword puzzle.

None of this looks like motivation. They are things I do while waiting for a lightening bolt of inspiration to hit.

Of course, the lightening bolt doesn’t hit until I open up a blank document and start writing and deleting.

These days, it’s the starting that’s the hard part. Once I’m going along on a task or project or activity, whether it’s for work or pleasure or both, I am fine (and usually wonder why it took me so long to get going).

I wonder why that is. Why the getting going is hard, even for something I truly want to do and know I’ll enjoy doing?

I think it’s the number one thing I can get down on myself for. “Oh my god, just DO it, what is WRONG with you,” my very petulant inner voice (who apparently watched too many Nike ads in the 90s) whines at me.

You can imagine how motivating that is. Well, it might be motivating for a moment, but then I start tying everything I need to do to a sense of doing it out of obligation, out of guilt, out of duty, rather than doing it out of trusting that I know what I want and I know the steps I need to take.

I am a planner. I always know the how: give me a goal, a destination, and I can plan my way there.

I usually enjoy the planning more than the execution.

Because then, a few weeks later, when I’m staring at the calendar that tells me that my writing time, carefully planned out and color coded, starts in ten minutes, but not planned in was the fact that on this random Tuesday, I don’t “feel like” writing, I start to barter. I’ll do it later, I have time tonight, who even cares if I write anyway, I’m too tired, I have too much work to do.

That bartering can end with getting sucked into randomness, like the list above of my first hour awake today.

I really don’t have many answers. Especially now, the world seems so fraught and so roiling that spending time on little ol’ me seems frivolous and unhelpful. If it’s not in the service of solving the world’s problems, than what is even the point (says my inner voice, in its famous contradictory way of having the hubris to think I alone can solve world problems and having the imposter syndrome to convince me that I’m not the right person to solve the world’s problems).

So then what is left? Perhaps what is left is the destination. Perhaps what is left is questioning what I want that goal to be.

My sister used the phrase “upside-down life” in a recent conversation. This was after she asked me what I am searching for. (No matter how adult we both get, I will never not have a jolt of amazement when the towheaded girl who used to run around with ridiculous bows in her hair and pinch me when I’d yell at her to clean up her half of the room can now ask insightful questions and make me think.)

I answered honestly: I don’t know. And the next day did a headstand in the living room to see what an upside down life would look like.

No bolt of lightening. But perhaps a crack of permission to wonder.

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