Leah and I took the puppy for a walk a few days ago. We ambled down our path, arm in arm chatting about our hopes and aspirations for the future. Knoxville had finally gotten the memo that it was October; it was a cool crisp night. Rain had fallen earlier in the day, and the scent of the earth hung heavy in the air. Crickets were chirping, frogs were singing, and the trees were swaying in the breeze. The ground was soft, so we didn’t hear him approach until he was close enough for me to feel his breath on my neck and a dull pressure against the small of my back. Time stopped as his harsh whisper filled my ears. “Do not run. Do not turn around.”
I had a minor existential crisis today. Currently I work from 3:00-11:30 PM Monday through Friday. Leah works from 8:00-5:30. This means that both of us are having to get used to seeing much less of one another than we ever have before. Prior to working second shift, we were both vaguely intrigued at the prospect of having so much alone-time. We would be so productive! Yeah, not seeing each other would be a bummer, but imagine how much we would get done!
This evening, I was at work and realized exactly what I had done with my day. I woke up at 7 AM and proceeded to spend the next seven hours alternating from vacantly looking at the internet, to playing hours upon hours of video games. I made a sandwich somewhere in there. Took the puppy out twice, and took a shower. I accomplished exactly nothing. Nothing of merit. Nothing that matters. The second I realized this was the case, I felt the lazy indignant bastard part of my brain immediately sputter through a mouthful of potato chips, “Yeah, but… You had to work tonight! You were just taking a break.”
As I pondered his words, I heard someone clear their throat. It was my brain’s resident accountant. He finished scrawling a series of numbers with a flourish, then looked up and adjusted his green eyeshade. “Uh, actually boss, I’ve done the math on this. It turns out that your so-called ‘break’ actually accounts for no less than one third of your entire day.”
“Yeah, one day!” The lazy bastard brushed some crumbs from his chest hair as he spoke.
“Well, sure, today was just one day. But you used the same ‘break’ excuse every day last week. And the one before. We’re not talking about days here, or even weeks. We’re talking about your life.”
I could hear my pulse pounding inside my ears. You spend your life convincing yourself that these sorts of things happen to others– not to you. I tried to find my voice.
“It’s late. We’re just taking our dog for a walk. We don’t have any keys or money on us.”
He snorted derisively. “I don’t want your money. I want your time.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been struggling with the fact that there’s a piece of me that longs for something more. There’s a part of me that desperately longs to make movies and write books and tell stories and make people think.
Unfortunately, I’ve found a good job. I have an incredible wife. I want for nothing important. My life is warm and cozy and comfortable. So despite that great longing, despite that God-given discontent, it’s so easy to do nothing. It takes almost zero effort to bury that discontent beneath video games and twitter and media and culture and all the things that vie for our attention every day.
But do you know what happens if you let your appetites rule you? If you allow yourself to move from one distraction to the next ad infinitum?
Not a damn thing. Nothing is accomplished. Nothing is changed. You do not grow. You do not come closer to reaching your goals. In fact, all you’re actually doing is stealing time from yourself as surely as a mugger with a gun to the small of your back.
Writing is hard. Really hard, almost all of the time. But I decided/realized that it was going to be my thang years ago. And I’m tired of half-assing it. I will never reach my goals if I keep doing life this way. Years ago I only wrote when I felt like it. More recently, I’ve begun writing only when I have to. It’s time for me to graduate to writing all the time. Regardless of how I feel.
Because I know me, I know I will always take the easy way out, so my only choice is not to leave one. Right now, I have about twenty video games installed on my computer. I will be removing most of those. The ones I’m leaving will not have an easily accessible shortcut on the desktop.
I’m going to start scheduling my writing. For example, between 7:30-10:00am. Maybe longer, maybe less. The bulk of that time will be spent working on the “Big Three”, one of the three books I’ve started but have not finished in the last year. In addition, I will also include additional writing time to spend on new projects (Graphic Novel and Podcast Drama immediately come to mind), and further time will be given to trying to build a career as a freelance writer.
That’s actually just the tip of the iceberg. Instead of going into full detail here, I have created a subdomain at www.huntingforgod.org/writing. For a while now, I’ve been aware of the fact that from time to time I feel the urge to write about something not specifically God related, but have had nowhere to put it. The website above will allow me to find a home for those thoughts, as well as allow those interested in the process to keep up to date without taking away the focus of what HfG is about. In the days to come, I will be adding some new and old content over there, so if you have an interest in writing, art, or, you know… me, feel free to bookmark the page.
I know that all of this is going to be difficult. I know that I’m going to hate it, and probably whine and complain… But I can’t help thinking that if I really do this… If I stick with it and put the time and effort in, then maybe I’ll get to see the discontent that has followed me my whole life begin to blossom into joy.