We all have these moments. Moments of possibly standing at the brink of something vast, your toes curling the edges, your breath catching and rattling in sharp and uneven inhales. You have a nagging feeling that there is something you should be doing, a direction you should be moving, a plan of action that will propel you towards your goal, your purpose, your passion.
But you continue to stand there, feeling rather blank and somewhat foolish for not being busy and inspired. The world around you echoes with words like hustle, big-picture, long-term goals, and life’s passion. It clangs loudly, an awkward dinner bell calling what feels like everyone forth to feast but you.
I often find myself in this constant, toe-curling pattern, and my impulse is to shrink, to raise my flag of defeat at being successful or creative or driven. It’s the beginnings that paralyze me. The myriad options that are too vague and hazy, the edges too undefined. The possible trajectories at once trace the ground in a busy and veiny map and yet are uncomfortably absent, rooting me paralyzed to the spot where I stand.
I used to find myself frantically bobbing in the open water during races, gasping for breath, unable to see the immediate and logical solution of simply beginning: a few clumsy strokes slicing through the water, a few bubbles, and a few kicks. Over and over, until the entire process feels less overwhelming and much more reasonably accomplished.
And so it’s gone with pushing the shutter button and writing and having big ideas and moving forward in business.
But what I’ve learned (and often struggle to remember) through the multitude of open water panic attacks is rather than envisioning the entire race course, the huge and audacious but hazy idea, or the carefully crafted photography career, it’s much less terrifying and overwhelming to simply do the next thing.
The next thing might be one clumsy stroke in the water. Or a frustrating brain dump of awkward and simple sentences to reclaim the rhythm of fingers on the keyboard. It might be one email sent. Or finding the courage to shoot a session differently. And while disconcerting at first, the next thing might be embracing the discomfort of not knowing exactly what to do next or where you want to go and instead choosing to rest for some time in gratitude with everything that already is.
Because all of the single strokes and awkward bubbles propel you to the finish. The end becomes clearer, the strokes a little smoother, your confidence more palpable, and suddenly your toes brush the sand at the bottom, and you emerge from the water. Rebirthed and ready.