Things on My Mind

I’ve started and abandoned many blog posts this week. Truth is, I’ve got too much on my mind that I’m not ready to write about. And since that stuff is all flopping around in my head, I can’t seem to find a clear path to anything else.

  • I tried to write a post about my work network.
  • I tried to write a post about pulling yourself out of the crap.
  • I tried to write a post about college football coaches as the new nobility.
  • I tried to write a post about the cathartic effects of traffic jams.

None of them got past the all important drafting, editing, posting stages necessary for them to come to life. They’re all stuck in draft mode. And draft mode is a lonely place for a written piece, whether it is the great American novel, a hit song or a blog.

So, I’m coming clean today. I’m admitting to myself, and to anyone reading this, that I’m stuck. I am finding it hard to bring any of the thousands of thoughts in my head to life in a way that I can be proud of. I don’t like it, but there it is.

It reminds me of an early time at Smith. I was struggling with a paper, one of hundreds of 3-5 page analysis papers I was assigned throughout my academic career. I had read the text, but for whatever reason no matter how many times I looked at the assignment I couldn’t come up with a hypothesis — I just couldn’t put the words on the page. The hours ticked away, and by 10:00pm, I was getting more and more frustrated, worried and nervous. 

And it was out of that mood that I found myself writing a Seussian narrative called The Valley of Vil. Stanza by stanza it poured out of me, completely unexpected. There I was, someone who had grown up in a business household, writing a cautionary tale about the linkage between industrial pollution and childhood illness. A morality poem. And, as each stanza was finished, I read it aloud to the friend whose room I was working in, looking for thoughts and validation.

By 2:00am, I had finished it. The longest rhyming couplet narrative poem I had ever written. I don’t remember whether I started the paper — the one that was due the next day — immediately or after a quick sleep. I only remember the feeling of relief that the logjam in my brain had broken free. Finally I was able to focus. Finally I could move on.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in my life is that it is futile to argue against your inherent nature. Of course it was a waste of time to write a poem that I misplaced years ago. The only thing I know for certain is that it would have been even worse to spend the entire night stuck in a loop, like Chevy Chase on the traffic circle in European Vacation. Sure, taking the detour and spending time to get back on the right road felt like a waste in the moment, but with perspective I realized that without it I might never have gotten back on the right road at all.

This post is not any of the posts I planned to write tonight. But it is the post I needed to write. The post that will help me clear a path for other more thoughtful, more engaged and more valuable posts to come.

And I’ve learned to appreciate the value in that — all by itself.