I have some fairly disparate things to talk about today but I think there is a thread that ties them together, so bear with me as I try to make sense of it . First: There’s always something, an idea or a perspective, that is obvious to some persons but another person is completely oblivious to it. And then maybe someone says something, and like the shake of a kaleidoscope, there is an inward shift and the new pattern becomes obvious. The person wonders why they never saw it.
All or nothing…
Second: Have you heard of the All-Or-None Law? It’s from physiology and it states that when a nerve or muscle cell is stimulated with a stimuli above the threshold potential, it responds. That is, it either responds completely or not at all. All or none (If you want to read more about it, please google it. I’m using it as a metaphor. I think.) It has come to my notice today that I have been thinking of everything in life from an ‘all or none’ point of view. I can do this or I can do that. I can write or I can pursue that opportunity. If I do this, I can’t do that other thing. For sure, there are cases where I can’t do both. I can’t write and climb Mount Everest at the same time.
I spoke a few days ago about following your heart, focusing on what you want to do, and completing it. I also spoke of ignoring distractions. There’s a new, exciting opportunity that has shown up and I immediately panicked and thought about how I would like to try out for it and also how saying ‘yes’ to something else would adversely affect my writing. My husband gently asked, “Why can’t you do both?” And I thought immediately of my all-or-none approach – do this or do that but not both.
If you are pursuing a creative venture, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether it can be done in addition to something else. Only you can decide. There will be those times when you’ll want to or have to balance multiple commitments (e.g. day job and creative venture or day job, raising children, and creativity, or raising children, volunteering and writing etc. etc.- there are as many iterations as there are people). Other times, you may choose to focus only on one thing. It is my humble opinion that only the individual can make the choice and that choice may vary from individual to individual, on the type of project, and it may depend on where you are on the project. I put the picture of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic above because she talks at length about this. I have read the book multiple times but it’s only when I see it play out in my life that I can understand it better. You don’t have to leave everything in order to be creative (which I correlated with the All or None Law!).
Now here’s what has happened to me- the question “Why can’t you do both?” served as a liberator. I somehow felt myself growing, as if my perception of my capabilities expanded in response to the question. If I make some smart choices and manage my time well, I may be able to do justice to both. It would require more work and yes, would be a challenge, but I might just be able to do it. I needed to let go of my old image of myself as someone who can do this or do that, and try out this new version of someone who can do this and that. We’ll see how this turns out.
Text and photography © Bookended.org