“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” — To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
There’s absolutely no reason to put a single word on a single sheet of paper. There’s even less reason to keep doing it until the words, and pages, start to take shape. It comes together and comes to life. It’s an entity with life, breath, and a soul. The latter arriving with a little luck, and no small amount of passionate coercion.
There’s no reason to go to bed at a decent hour, get eight hours of sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. I’m hard-pressed to find a good reason to get out of bed and give another day a try. This is especially true when every other day has progressed with the same amount of vapidness as the previous day.
How’s that for a mood? Geez, someone woke up on the grumpy side of the known galaxy. Doom and gloom. Woeful disillusionment. A pity party for one and ordering a large pizza. Pineapple? Why the hell not? I’m not giving anyone else a slice. Oh, that is, indeed, a mood of all moods.
Here’s the thing — Scratch that! No excuses or justifications. I’m in a mood. There’s nothing else to say. A mood has descended upon my house like a plague of historical significance. What? Please don’t tell me it’s too soon to make plague jokes, references, or take potshots? Having survived it, surely that gives me the right to crack wise.
Assuming, of course, that there’s wisdom behind the chuckle? Gallows humour. Laugh so you don’t cry. Cry until you laugh. Why so serious? There’s a time and place for seriousness and humour. I don’t see why those times, and places, can’t converge on a single moment and ease the tension a wee bit.
I laugh at inappropriate times. It’s a fault in my wiring or maybe it’s just a defence mechanism. I’m not a fan of crying, especially in public, so I go for the giggle with gusto and hope it tickles my fancy. If I can make myself laugh then this mood won’t seem so bad to anyone looking.
To be honest, it’s not a bad mood but rather one that feels more contemplative. Why do I write these words? Will it matter? Will it make a difference? What will that difference, if any, be in the grand scheme of my life or lives of the people reading this prose? Why am I here? Why am I doing this? What reason do I have, or need, to keep trying when trying is tiresome?
I’m not looking for sympathetic responses or a line of cheerleaders. They’re nice and peppy. I’m sure there’s a time a place for pep, but not right now. It’s just not what I’m looking for at the moment.
Don’t get me wrong! External validation is needed from time to time. I need it, in an adequate dosage, which isn’t something we’re supposed to admit. The self-help gurus would have a go at me if they read that sentence out loud. It’s all about internal validation. That’s far more important than anything the world can give us. We should strive to validate ourselves, our lives, and our own experiences. Ignore the external. Don’t give a damn about what others think. Stand on your own. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Okay, they’re probably right, to a certain extent. They are gurus after all, and they don’t hand that title out to just anyone. I’m simply a person who puts words on a page then rinses and repeats. Who am I to disagree with a guru? What qualifies me to cast doubt? Uh… I like pineapple?
That seems like a good reason to me.
In my ever so meagre opinion, there’s a place for the external in the grand internal biosphere. Of course, I seek validation from my peers and my community. It’s not my only source of validation, but the encouragement certainly helps. When someone takes time to write a comment or send me words of support? I feel a rush of energy that I think I’d call a sense of happiness or fulfillment.
I could be misreading the sensation, though. It feels warm and it kind of tickles. Is that what happiness feels like? Seriously, I’m asking for a “friend.”
I’m only human so yes, I love a little external validation on a day when my internal well doth run dry. All the gurus are shaking their heads in disgust. I’ll never be invited to their parties now. No secret handshake. No insignia ring. I guess I should cancel my robe fitting. In hindsight, booking the appointment might’ve been premature.
Alas, my guru lifestyle has ended before it even began. Shall we take a minute of silence to mourn? No, a little too much? Okay, you’re right. I’m being silly. Besides, I can make my own robe, design my own ring, and throw my own party with a secret handshake for one. Take that, gurus!
I sure showed them.
But for this moment, this mood that I’m in, I think a little introspection is needed. As much as it pains me to admit it? Well, the guru’s are kind of right. External validation only goes so far. It’s fun for a while but it wears off in a day or two. The only way to make it a sustained sensation is to have a steady stream injected directly into your system using tubes in holes.
Tubes in holes. As someone who has had many tubes in many holes, I can say, with confidence, it’s not a pleasant sensation. Medical people, for some perverse reason, love sticking tubes in holes. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to plug it up! Oo, if you thought gurus got me running off on a tangent just you wait for my epic op-ed on tubes on holes.
Ready for an amazing topical transition?
There’s one hole that I fall into a lot, and I should probably fill it with something sturdier than a tube. This hole has been dug out by years, a lifetime really, of failures, and abandoned dreams. I’ve tried so hard, pursued so many dreams, but I always come up short or fall flat on my face. I put my heart, my hopes, into everything I do but it doesn’t feel like it will ever be enough. I will always miss the mark. My dreams will always fall away. I will always fail with a bang or a whimper.
Self-doubt feels a lot like inevitability.
It’s only natural that, with a hole sitting heavy, I wake up and wonder why I should put a lot of words on a bunch of pages. What reason do I have to try? What will it matter? What will it accomplish? Why am I doing this when I’m so clearly going to fail?
Self-doubt isn’t a particularly unique problem to have, but it is a very human one. There are a few moments in my life where I’ve wished I was a robot. When my body parts start to fail, for example. Wouldn’t it be great if I could pop it out, then pop in a new one. No waiting. No pain. Just pop. Good as new. Carry on, my friend. Carry on.
If only I was a robot! I wouldn’t struggle with self-doubt like everyone else. Much to my disappointment I am, in fact, human. I struggle, just like you do. This is a problem for the masses. It’s not unique to the few of us, who’s sanity is strapped to a helium balloon by a fraying piece of twine. We all, to varying degrees, struggle to find a reason to carry on trying. It’s universal. Probably. I’m assuming. I could be wrong.
We could all be robots. Who knows?
Maybe it’s worse for dreamers and purpose seekers? People whose heads seem to live up in the stars, and who’s eyes never stop searching for the meaning of their existence. They haven’t found their place in this world, not just yet, so they keep searching. Floating along. Trying. Failing. Trying again. To make matters worse, their dreams always seem to come crashing to the ground and their purpose remains elusive.
We try. We put our hearts into everything we do. We fail. We try again. We fail again. Can I get off this ride for a few minutes, please? I’m feeling a tad bit nauseous. Motion sickness. Don’t want to make a mess.
After a while, the questions start and doubt becomes an echo in the void. Why keep trying? Why put your heart into it if it’s going break? There’s no reason for it. No reason to put words on a page. No reason to stand up and be counted. No reason… There’s a long list of no’s and why’s. Feel free to add your own if getting it out will shut it up for a bit.
Upon further introspection, I’ve failed to find these ‘reasons’ I’ve been searching for, the ones to satisfy my need for internal validation, but I have come to one conclusion. Being a dreamer, a holder of hope, takes courage. It asks us to see life all the way through, even when it appears that life has already given up on us. When all hope seems lost or shattered in broken dreams? Pick up a fragment, hold on tight, and keep going.
We keep trying even when the list is long and the doubt is strong. We keep searching the sky for our North Star. We keep hoping that we’re heading in the right direction. When our sense of direction fails us, we adapt and make a change even though giving up, laying down, would be so much easier.
It would be so much easier to lay my head down for a day or two. Ah, but I fear that, should I let go of the abstract dream, I will miss it when it finally solidifies. If I give up now, what will I miss later? If I don’t try now, despite the lack of reasoning, would I regret it? Possibly, so I take comfort in a quote that’s been taken out of context.
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee)
I might be licked, or beaten, or destined to fail but I like this definition of courage. Do it anyway. See it through. Who knows, maybe this is a period of transition and it will open up a new world? As unlikely as that seems, I’ll take Ms. Harper Lee’s well written words to heart.