Chipping Away at Your Boulder of Dreams
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
"My brain is a ball of tangled yarn," I wrote in a poem, circa 2014. I found some of my old poetry the other day, shoved in the bottom of a dresser between stacks of car insurance documents and other important paper things. Why do I have so many paper things? I wondered. Why does adulthood come with so much paper? So many things to sign, so many subscriptions and phone calls and constant, pinging notifications. Why does adulthood come with so much responsibility, so much time dedicated to things that do not actually matter? Why do we continue to think that the bills and emails and phone calls matter so much?
I was mildly envious of 7-year-ago Sarah, who lived in the neverland that is a college campus. I worked, sure, but it was simple, straight-forward, honest work, slicing ham in a local deli, washing dishes, mopping floors. I ran as a college athlete, but running was fun. Training was intoxicating. And I studied, of course, but I studied language. I wrote poetry and deconstructed theories and learned to question everything. 7-year-ago Sarah had the mental capacity, creativity, and wherewithal to sit on an expansive lawn and write poetry on the back of her class syllabus. 7-year-ago Sarah thought that her brain was a ball of tangled yarn, but she didn't really know anything about knots and untangling them.
Lately, life has felt a bit hamster-on-a-wheel-ish. A bit like I'm sprinting and going nowhere, but getting really tired in the process. Taking one step forward and one step back, into infinite. Busy, in a way that feels good some of the time, but terrible some of the time. I wonder how much time is collectively wasted on the terrible busyness. The stuff that must be done by someone, but that isn't interesting or fun. The cleaning, the cooking, the bills, the oil changes, the commuting, the endless, endless errands.
I have felt hamster-on-a-wheel-ish because I'm playing the long game, in my career, in running, with my writing, with life. I have learned to be patient out of necessity. There are long stretches of time where I must put my head down and work. Work at my job, yes. But also train hard and long. Write bad things until something good comes. Chip away at the boulders that are my hopes and dreams. Most of the time, I like the process of chipping. But sometimes I make the mistake of stepping back to evaluate my progress and notice how far I have to go. When the road behind you is small, any journey feels interminable.
I am busy and stressed and tired. Last week after a work meeting I felt the weight of everything I could be doing better rest heavily on my shoulders. There is no end to the busyness. The more I do, the more I am expected to do. The better I perform, the higher the bar, which is exactly how most things should be. We should push ourselves to be and do better. But there is a unique insanity to the expectation of exponential, ceaseless growth. There is a heaviness to expectation, and unluckily for me, no expectation is heavier than my own and I am the one person I cannot escape.
I was briefly envious of 7-year-ago me because she wasn't burdened yet, with such heaviness. A good friend told me the other day that I seem troubled on a soul level. A deep level. This is true, but I haven't quite figured out what is troubling me so deeply. Maybe, it's my present inability to fully commit my creative energy to the things I want to write. Maybe, it's my desire to do something meaningful and important with my life. Maybe it's the slow trudge toward the meaningful and important, the hiccups and roadblocks I've been scaling and climbing over, only to find another roadblock ahead of me. Life, though, is just a series of roadblocks, said someone (probably a country singer).
I got a message the other day from a woman who reads this blog (God bless), and it brought me to tears. "Your words find me exactly when I need them. Always here to remind you-you and your story are so so so so meaningful." I never expected a reader to bring me a warm, glowing nugget of encouragement exactly when I needed it the most.
Keep trudging. Keep chipping away at your boulder of dreams. Keep the innocent naivete of your former self alive and awake and fluttering inside your stomach. You have so much to do, and so much to offer.
P.S. Here is the aforementioned poem. Find my book on Amazon here, or follow my poetry page on Instagram here.
I lost my left arm beneath the guest bed
spent the night in a snare drum
replaced eyes with marbles
and used my right arm to tuck myself in.
My brain is a ball of tangled yarn
paws scratch my frontal lobe
I don’t quite recall what the topic was
but it was something like digging
for dinosaur bones.
There’s a T-Rex in the landfill
but no one thought to look there
I think I left my heart there
at any rate I can’t find it
and it isn’t in the butter dish.
I normally hate butter, but I read
it’s good to drink before bed
it helps me sleep.
I must have forgotten to buy butter.
I should really write a list so I don’t forget
the sleeping pills are in the medicine cabinet.
So is the Vicodin.
I saw on the Discovery channel
that dinosaurs died a long time ago
but no one knows when
like no one knows when nightlights
became too bright for right side of the bed,
like who wants to live with dinosaur bones?