Just slightly under two years ago (March 29th, 2005 at 11:30am. EST. to be exact) I wrote, “A leap in the dark is an act of blind faith, trusting your judgment and instincts that whatever it is you’re about to do is right and that you’re not going to end up, up to your ankles in dung.”
I referred to it as the explanation for the title of my blog, “Leap In The Dark”, but it could also be said to be my own personal mission statement. At the time the blog was just what I said it was – a step into the unknown as I was going public with my writing for the first time.
Ever since my early days of working in theatre I’ve believed it important, as part of being creative, to continually take risks – to take leaps in the dark – or stagnation would set in. When I started blogging it was with the intention of writing as much as possible in a public setting and risk my opinions and abilities in front of an audience.
It was with that goal in mind that I approached the people at Blogcritics about three months after starting “Leap In The Dark.” It was one thing to write in the virtual anonymity of my own site, but another thing altogether to write for a publication that was already a recognised presence on the Internet and had a built in audience.
Over seven hundred articles of various length, quality, and subject matter produced on a daily basis later, I’m about to take another leap into relatively unknown territory. Sometimes you have to take life by the throat and shake it to effect change, and other times opportunities are just dropped in your lap. On really special occasions not only are opportunities offered you, but life also makes damn sure you’re paying attention by hitting you over the head with its equivalent of a cast iron frying pan.
I may not be too swift sometimes, but even I’ll get the message when I’m offered two almost identical opportunities within a week of each other that taking advantage of one of them would be in my best interest. The problem is recognising what’s in your own best interest.
There are a lot of things that can get in the way of that, but the biggest obstacle is fear. Fear of change and fear of the unknown have probably prevented many a person from discovering their full potential. It’s far easier to stay doing the same thing, and doing it well, than risk doing something new where the results are uncertain.
Worry about a new job is probably something a lot of people have in common, so I’m sure most of you can understand that trepidation. I also have to throw into the mix the consideration of whether or not I’ll be able to manage whatever that position entails and being able to maintain my daily output of writing. With neither of the opportunities requiring anything close to a major time commitment it wouldn’t normally be a concern, but it’s been a number of years since things have been normal for me.
For reasons that are too tedious to bear repeating, I have only limited energy in any given day. Some days I’ve more than others, but it’s usually pretty consistent. The major problem is that I can work steadily for a couple of hours, but then have to stop and have a nap. Occasionally work means things like taking care of life away from the computer (yes, it does exist believe it or not) but the result is the same. My day is broken up into chunks of working time and chunks of naptime.
When Aaman Laamba of Desicritics emailed me and asked if I would consider joining his team of editors, I was a little hesitant but willing to give it a shot. When Ashok Banker emailed me two days later to ask me to take over editing his Epic India web site, with the goal of making it less Ashok Banker and more literary, I stalled.
For the past week, while I have continued to write my daily posts and helped out with editing chores at Desicritics, I mulled over Ashok’s offer. It was easy to come up with reasons not to take him up on the offer, but after a couple of days the reasons began to sound like excuses. The problem wasn’t even so much that they were excuses. It was that I was making the excuses to me, not to anybody else.
After a week of this I figured out that my real problem wasn’t any of the excuses I had prepared about not having time to write or not knowing what the hell it was I was doing, but that I was scared of making any changes in my life. The irony is that change is exactly what I need after close to two years of doing pretty much the same thing day in and day out.
What made me clue into that fact was that for the first time in two months, instead of only being able to write for the web and then feeling too drained to do any other writing for the rest of the day, I’ve been inspired to work on my novel. Since I heard first from Aaman and then from Ashok, I’ve had more creative energy than the last three months combined.
A friend of mine who taught Yoga once told me something very interesting about the concept of transition. In Yoga, muscles are never at rest and so are always in transition from one position to another. We normally tend to think of transition as the time in between doing one thing and then another, a period of stasis where nothing happens.
That’s impossible because we are always in motion whether we know it or not, moving from one place in our lives to the next. It’s just that, unlike in Yoga where you see the muscles move, we’re not always aware of the fact that we are in motion. That’s what causes us to become frustrated and to stagnate.
The closer we get to the point where we become aware of our need for change, the more frustrated, stagnated, and less productive we get. The resistance to the necessary change comes from the fact that we haven’t been accomplishing what we know we’re capable of, so we don’t have much confidence in our own abilities. Not exactly the most ideal of mental conditions to be in when contemplating a change, is it?
Hence the self doubts that plague most people just before they do make any sort of change in their lives. The human mind can be such a treat some times, can’t it? I finally figured out what was going on, decided to take my own advice, and take the leap.
I have no idea what’s going to happen or even if I’m going to like editing, but I’m not going to know unless I try. So as of today, as well being a writer, I’m now editor of the web site Epic India. Whatever else happens, at least I know I won’t be bored for the next little while, and that’s always a positive.