By Gil Gonzalez
We’ve all seen them, right? The Disney movie with the young, adolescent character who dreams big dreams and tells his/her parent with big, wide eyes, “Someday, I’m going to ……”
The big dream. The ultimate goal. Someday.
This week’s Random Writers topic is about personal prisons we build for ourselves out of fear. I wish this was about personal prisons other people build out of fear. I have an endless array of examples from which I can draw if that were the case. 500 word checkpoint? Forget that. I can 50,000 words on other people’s prisons. Those are really easy to point out.
My personal prisons, however, are something different. No one likes to look inside themselves and point out the failures they’ve experienced for no reason other than themselves. It’s called personal prisons for a reason, and mine are spelled like this: S – O – M – E – D – A – Y.
Someday I’m going to write that book. Someday I’m going to write that screenplay. Someday I’m going to get my finances in order. Someday I’m going to <fill in the blank>.
Even though the walls of my prisons are built with the kryptonic bricks that are procrastination and laziness, the foundation of that cell block is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of hard work. Dare I say it? Fear of success.
Life is so much easier on calmer waters. Better yet, life is so much easier when you’re standing on the shore looking out over the calm waters.
“Isn’t that nice? Isn’t that so pretty and serene? Wouldn’t it be awesome to be out there on that water, sailing away without a care in the world? What? We can? You actually want me to get on this boat and sail? Ummm ….. why don’t we just stay here instead and just enjoy the view? Someday ….. we’ll go sailing. Just not today.”
I don’t know what it is. I’ve been looking at the same personal project list since January. I remember being so fired up at the turn of the year about everything I wanted to do and accomplish in 2011. THIS was the year I was going to do A, B, and C. This was the year I would finally finish X, Y, and Z.
What happened? Where did all that enthusiasm and determination go?
Some of it is just life getting in the way. I know that’s a fall-back excuse, and I know we say it all to casually as a justification for not getting stuff done. But there is some truth to the planned sometimes being derailed by the unexpected. For me, however, the rest comes down to a lot of fear of the unknown.
So I write the book I want to write. Then what? So I finally make the time to put together a screenplay. What comes after that? From shopping it to getting an agent to letting it sit in a drawer for months to worrying all the time that it’s not any good; the fearful ideas that start out as little pits in the road evolve in my brain into a chasm from which nothing escapes. The whole thing becomes so overwhelming, I convince myself to not even try.
“Why don’t we just stay here instead and just enjoy the view? Someday ….. we’ll go sailing. Just not today.”
The whole thought process is completely irrational. It’s more than that. It’s downright stupid.
It’s like all things in life that I’ve experienced. I put off going to the dentist for months only to have the visit be a surprisingly pleasant one. I delay going on a diet because of all the ‘hard work’ of having to watch what I consume and eating in moderation. It does take some energy and discipline to be on a diet, but at the end of the day it’s not really all that hard to do. Example after example, time after time, the perception is almost always a thousand times worse than the reality.
When it comes to avoiding my personal prisons, the marketing geniuses at Nike had it right all along. I shouldn’t think about it. I need to just do it.