Sometimes, when you least expect it, hard work, life has a way of sneaking up and popping you one in the head. One minute, you steaming along, gathering momentum, on a roll. And the next, you’re traveling down a service road.
What the — ? You can see the main highway you were just on. hard work, It’s still there right beside you. And all those other cars are still rolling along without even a gap in the traffic to show where you were.
And there you are — sidelined. Chugging down a side road, knowing you’ll never get this time back. It’s gone.
You can be sidelined for many reasons. Life gets in the way. Things pile up and need to be attended to. Your motivation flags. You take your eye off the prize. You stall and sputter out temporarily.
Maybe you just need a break — or you need to take a different path for a while.
I’ve spent the last two weeks almost completely disconnected from writing, from Medium and from the FaceBook sites I’ve regularly visited.
I gotta tell you it feels weird.
For one thing, I have so many ideas spinning around in my head right now it’s difficult to get them in some kind of order — a least, anything which makes sense.
Like an addict Jonesing for a fix, I need to write. But the words are tumbling over each other so fast it’s hard to grab onto one idea and stay focused long enough to get it on the page.
I’ve been on a different path — a side-road
I’ve been visiting family — staying with my sister while her hubby undergoes cancer surgery. He’s come through with flying colors so far, but his recovery from the sixteen-hour marathon surgery will be long and painful.
Sister number three flew in as well, so our trio was temporarily reunited. We shared some tears and a lot of laughter. We had fun tooling around my old stomping grounds. The two of us (visitors) tried to feed up our sister — no easy task as she’s recovering from dental surgery while coping with hubby’s needs.
We joked about having two invalids for the price of one.
But, in spite of the serious side, we had a wonderful time together.
It seems no matter how long we’re apart, that sister bond snaps into place and we’re as tight as ever we were. As teenagers, we were often at each other’s throats over some trifle, but when one of us was threatened or in need, it was us against the world.
That’s the funny thing with our family emergencies. We’ve had more than our share over the years, lots of scares, family crises, more than enough sorrow. And each, however difficult at the time, has taught a valuable lesson. One of the hardest is this:
Life goes on, with or without us. All those other cars on the highway keep moving right along.
Probably, the most important single thing I’ve learned is that life goes on. hard work Whether I like it or not, whether I even want it to at the time. Like the pop tune from the nineties, “the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.”
I still have to get up, suit up, and get on with my day, whatever form it takes. However bad I feel, however scared I am.
It’s the old “one foot in front of the other” routine — one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time — whatever it takes to get me moving and keep me on track. To keep in mind, I’ me not doing anyone any favors by vanishing down the rabbit hole with them. I need to look after myself, too.
I learned the hard way, you have to take care of yourself. Eat. Talk. Laugh. Pray. Go for a walk. Sit on the deck with your coffee. Play with the cats. Order take-out. Spend time caring for your own physical and emotional health.
Go for a drive, get lost and find a new way home.
And after a crisis, isn’t it really all about finding a new way home? Depending on the outcome, you may need to adapt to a new way of living and being. You may need to find a new way of being together, even temporarily.
You may have a struggle before your life returns to normal, or before you are comfortable with your new normal.
But here I am again, back in front of my keyboard with my thoughts in an utter mess.
How do I get back on track? How do I get back in the groove? How do I concentrate? How do I focus on my hard work while being pulled in different directions?
Is there something in my tool-belt to get me going again?
Many of the tools I use to overcome writers’ block or loss of focus caused by anxiety will not hard work in this circumstance. A long walk, another coffee on the porch enjoying my flowers will ease my emotional state and help me maintain some semblance of mental balance. But they don’t stop the jumble of words trying to scramble their way onto the page.
Nor will they hard work for you, if your emotional investment elsewhere is heavy — that is if you’re more concerned with whatever else is going on rather than your work. And it’s so hard not to be, some days.
It may seem selfish to even think about your hard work, but remember, the highway’s still there. Life is still rolling along. With or without you.
So, give this strategy a try. It works for me and you may find it helpful.