This Is War

Recently, I began a writing course.

I’ve been learning to hone my voice, find my tribe, and establish a platform.

The lessons are intriguing; they make me love the craft all the more. The selected books propel me into action.

I get to be a part of some stirring forums. My classmates are awesome. They provide me with real feedback. Sometimes their words are rather alarming, jabbing into my outrageously sensitive core. But I know they are for my own good. I’m learning to hack it. I’m learning to dismiss the need for approval.

My creative side has acquired a true workout. I’m finding I’m more creative than I ever fathomed. You probably are, too.

This experience has exceeded my expectations. It’s been most excellent thus far.

951a74abc0cf541933f0e1806b9cb6eb

But the class sure is kicking my butt.

The content isn’t difficult. I understand it. Still, I’m being worked…and hard. I’m instructed to write every day, which should come as no surprise. This in itself is the most difficult part – writing every solitary day.

94 percent of the time, I don’t feel like it, I lack inspiration, I’m tired, and I have laundry to do. Nevertheless, simply showing up no matter the feeling, inspiration, tiredness, or busyness is vital.

A short time ago, I was doing fifteen-minute abs once each week. Now, I’m training for a marathon.

9080584dcbe52596c6819d0abd67344f

“The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.

The artist must be like a Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being miserable more than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby.”

-Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

I have mixed feelings about the above excerpt. The outcome sounds appalling. Why would I willingly write (or for that matter,  pursue anything) if I’m bound to experience these suggested inflictions?

However, Pressfield is absolutely correct. These inflictions come. They come and make every day seem as if there is a sniper trailing terribly close, shooting down every respectable attempt at something inspired.

Pressfield is also right to call this a war, although I prefer envisioning myself a bow hunter over a Marine.

71ac6c2f021bd6c1936b68dc49064a84

And Pressfield is wrong, I believe. Yes, miserable times undoubtedly arrive. Still, I don’t think one needs to “know how to be miserable” or “love being miserable.” The conditions must be dealt with, certainly. But I can’t justify dealing in this fashion.

I would rather fight with love and joy. I would rather fight with the strength He provides. While walking in these outpourings of the Spirit, there is no space for misery.

I’m venturing to make this shift because there is far too much goodness to resolve for continued misery.

Mr. Pressfield, this is war. This is a war against that sniper.

This is a war I don’t have to fight on my own. I don’t know why I ever thought I had to. I can let it all go, and he gives me everything I need. He fills my thoughts and sparks creativity.

I only have to make myself show up, keep saying “yes.” He unfailingly takes care of the rest.

Advertisements

Pepper In My Teeth

It looked scrumptious. The plate held vibrant hues of green, red, yellow, and purple. My tomato and avocado omelette was worthy of an Instagram upload.
Shortly after Andrew (my terrific tattooed waiter) slid the plate onto the slab of pine did tragedy take a toll. Instinctively, I reached for the pepper grinder. I inherited the “excess pepper trait” from my grandfather. Not a moment after I began vigorously turning the grinding mechanism, the darn gadget split in two. Pepper balls coated the formerly alluring platter and rolled onto the table.
74e4e00c882a4aacf5adda99df91b170
My cheeks turned pink for all but fifteen seconds, surprisingly. Normally, my blushing is endless. Having accidents like this pepper “catastrophe” is not uncommon for this girl. I should cut Revlon powder out of the daily routine and save twelve dollars a year.
Searching for a sympathetic soul, I tried to play it cool. The J.Crew couple at the table next to me didn’t offer a glance. They had been quietly snickering since before I ordered my green tea. A waitress came my way when she saw me sweeping up the black beads. I declined her gracious offer for a re-make. The wait staff was overwhelmingly kind and the manager also offered me a new omelette. Three offers later, I still declined. They insisted on fresh avocado, and I had no choice but to oblige.
Scraping the food was tedious and I munched on a couple of balls, but I couldn’t waste it. I hate wasting food. The extent of my “food saving” may be repulsive by Western standard. I eat whatever I drop on the floor. I don’t think twice about finishing Sophie and Mia’s leftover waffles. If I don’t like something, I smile and swallow. Liver in Uganda once each week was one of my greatest feats.
When did this happen? When did I become a scavenger? It began when I started internationally traveling. It is only honorable to eat what is in front of you in third world places. They often kill their only goat for you.
f5d2e83d399b6340c8cd9a4447013bff
Even Jesus advocates conservation. In The Book of John, He tells the disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
Jesus doesn’t want anything reusable to be thrown out. This extends further than the food category. Clothing, recyclable papers and plastics, furniture. Why should He discriminate?
This concept goes further than tangible materials. It is not His wish to see a life wasted. He desires for us to live with full purpose.
More than hoard, we should savor. Savor is more palatable, like my tomato and avocado omelette. We need to use what we have been given to its abundance.
The Apostle Peter (if you believe he wrote the book) asserts, “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
We were not meant to waste time by wondering. Life has exploratory phases, but we must not waste too much time. We have great things to do. Let’s discover those gifts and step into savoring abundant life through relishing in them. He has given us the task of distributing His grace.
I can still taste the pepper in my teeth.