When I walk, I leave everything behind. I used to take my camera with me, but now it only keeps me distracted. I wear a watch (remember those?) so I don’t have to bring my phone.
I’m learning how to walk like a believer, how to look ahead on the path rather than just at my feet. How to stop and touch the bark on that funny looking tree. How to see.
I found a leaf as big as my face, plucked it off the branch and brought it home to show the kids. They were delighted because I was. We teach them how to see, too.
Yesterday as I was perusing through my archives I clicked on courage.
I found a post I wrote in the past called “Why is it so Hard to Call Yourself a Writer?” I realize I’m not the only one saying some of these things. When I re-read that post, it was confirming to read something and know other writers are saying it too.
But there was a time when that was terrifying. There was a time when I would read the inspiring words other people wrote and I would get a hole in my stomach. That hole was a drain where inspiration and courage swirled around like dirty water, faster and faster until they disappeared forever, leaving me alone and dejected in a land where I am a loser with nothing to say.
When you have a message and you pack words around that message like clay on a wheel and someone else shows up with a finished pot? It can feel like dying a little bit. Every artist knows this. It’s why people stop making art.
What do you do when someone else is saying what you want to say and saying it better?
1 . Your goal is not to make something new, your goal is to reimagine what already is.
Our imaginations are endless. You get to frame things in a way only you can, with a voice only you have. Sure, we may be framing the same thing, but we’ll do it differently. This takes the pressure off. I could write a whole thing on that, but Austin Kleon already did. Of course. Lifestyle photographer Kelly Sauer wrote about this recently too: I’m Not Orignal. Now What?
2. We live in a world of abundance, not scarcity.
I didn’t feel badly about pulling that leaf from the branch. The tree was full of them. There is enough to go around. There really is. Just because he is saying something you think you should say doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If they do it, join them. If she says it, support her. They are not the enemy. If they are saying it too, all that means is that you’re on to something. This is a good thing. Use it.
3. We need you awake and alive.
Does the world need another book? Song? Painted living room? Not necessarily. But does the world need you to come alive? Absolutely. If writing books and songs and painting living rooms is what makes you come alive, then that’s what you’ll need to do. Maybe if we shift the focus from our work, our art and our insecurities, we will see a world to rub shoulders with, a world ready to receive what we have to offer.
What do you do when someone else is doing the thing you want to be doing?