About a year ago, I discovered a powerful urge to write. I started to subscribe to writing magazines and I listened to writing podcasts. I bought books on writing and even read a few. I journaled.
But every time my heart thrilled with possibility, I bumped into what I knew I lacked: time, experience, confidence — never mind a topic, a format, an audience.
So, my conversations went something like this: I want to write, but I don’t know what to say. I want to write, but no one will read it. I want to write, but if they read it they won’t like it. I want to write, but I can’t find the time.
In May last year, I picked up this nifty trick: See what happens in my head when I swap the “but” for an “and.” So I did.
I wrote my list again and discovered something amazing. Under my ordinary framing, my two truths — (1) I want to write; (2) I don’t have time — had curled in toward each other and made a world-excluding whole. Complete, true and impenetrable.
When I reframed my thought, the two truths became the first cars of a growing train. I want to write. I don’t have time. AND what am I going to do about that?
My starting principle — I want to write — became the engine. And my worry became the car right behind it. And here’s where the crazy thing happened: Suddenly, I saw that car reaching back to invite a third and fourth car to link up. Those cars? Ideas and experiments about ways to sneak in a bit of writing here and there. In other words, “and” allowed me to honor my worries and carry on anyway.
That’s how I started this blog. I’d say to myself, “I want to write, but it’s very hard to get published.” Well, that’s true. It’s very hard to get published in magazines and journals. And I can publish myself on a blog. And I can learn about blogging. And I can just get started. And I can make mistakes. And I can learn from each one of then. And, and, and.
And, by the way, I became so inspired by you, dear reader (my own personal hand-picked audience), that I started finding lots of time to write. Funny, that.
I encourage you to give it a try. State a desire. Then find the things that are holding you back from pursuing that desire. Use the conjunction “but,” and study its effect on you.
Each statement is true. And, for me, each operates like a thumb and forefinger snipping a bud and flicking it away. The conjunction “but” here excuses me from my desire. I set my desire aside as unrealistic and myself as ill-equipped. I strip myself of power and my desire of integrity.
Then utter the same sentence with the conjunction “and.” How does that affect you?
Each statement, again, is true. And each statement now is a gateway to possibility. That gateway invites me to develop a plan. It restores my power to choose and act. And it restores integrity to my desire.
The fingers don’t flick the bloom away. Instead, they are finding a way to bring it to flower.
When I couple my desires with what I lack, I spotlight my impediments and at the same time illuminate the path ahead.
And with that much light shining on the situation, it becomes much harder to say no.
I wrote this piece for Five Minute Friday, a faith-based community blogging site at https://fiveminutefriday.com/2019/04/11/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-lack/ Scroll all the way down and check out the other short essays on the topic of “Lack.”