It was Sunday evening. I hadn’t been feeling well, so I was sitting in the comfy chair in the living room with Percy cat on my lap, doing some journal writing and some reading. My list of projects and tasks sat nearby, and I was feeling some vague guilt for not making more progress. Sure, it was still the weekend, but I knew Monday would be busy, and that there was a lot to do this week.
Anyway, I picked up a book that I’ve been working my way through slowly. It’s a fantastic book, actually, The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters by Sarah Susanka. It has in-depth exercises, and I want to make room to actually do them, thus the slow and deliberate read. It’s taking a while to get going. But what I read there was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.
Perhaps you do, too.
“Whenever we engage in a project, we perceive that project as being something out there in the world, something outside ourselves. But when our to-do list is running us instead of serving as a management aid, it’s a flag that we’ve lost sight of the inspiration and vision behind what we’re doing. Although it seems that the point lies in the successful completion of the project, in fact the only reason for doing it is to be fully engaged in the experience, so that we can learn more about who we truly are.
“If we are trying to accomplish a project by frenetically racing around in a vain attempt to get everything done, the results will embody that frantic energy. But if we return to our original vision and hold that clearly in heart and mind as we engage each moment fully, the completed project will be an embodiment of this much more authentic expression of ourselves. This is the only way for something to be truly effective.
“In other words, the point isn’t the project itself. The point is to learn as much as we possibly can about ourselves, who we are now, and who we are becoming through the process of accomplishing the task at hand. As we engage in our project – our act of creation – there’s an incredible kind of nutrition available in the experiencing of every moment as the results come into being. That’s the only reason for doing anything.”
Wow. In my case, this means that procrastinating or rushing through the revisions of our novel, in order to get started on a new writing project, doesn’t make sense. It not only doesn’t serve the project itself, but it also moves away from my own growth and learning, and the deeper questions I was engaging by choosing the project to begin with. Having read this quote, I’m now viewing the revision and editing process from a whole new space, one of excitement and creativity.
Can you think of projects in your life where this advice applies? How does it affect your view of those creations? What is the bigger picture of your life, and the things you’re committed to right now?