Monday, April 23, 2018

When things don't go as planned

Sometimes I'm filled with an excessive abundance of enthusiasm and drive. It's so strong, I feel I could sit down in front of my computer screen and complete the first draft of a 500 page novel in one session. I've learned to ride that sweet wave of productivity when it graces me with it's presence (generally in the latter half of a sleepless night) and let everything else slip to the side for a bit.

Let's be honest though, the times when that wave of near-manic productivity visit me are actually few and far between. And if I just sit and wait for them, the things I want to accomplish will never happen. I have to force my own two tired legs to walk into my office, sit in my chair, put my hands on my keyboard and create -- whether I feel like it or not. My word for the year is Discipline, and oh boy could I fill a book just with lessons I'm learning in that area (the more I learn, the less I know. It's humbling.)

I got back from America a week ago today, late in the evening. While I was gone, we'd opened our home to someone who needed a place to stay a couple of weeks while working out a visa issue. Our guest had been with two other people in Hong Kong before coming our way, and we'd told the guest they were welcome to use the spare room while I was gone, but needed to be moving along by the time I returned, as the "spare room" is only really spare when I'm not here to work in it.

While in the States, I journaled excessively. I filled my senses with a lot of things all new to me, so I jotted notes and ideas down practically every hour of the two weeks I was away. When I got home I was so ready to turn on my computer and turn those notes and journal entries into carefully crafted stories. My enthusiasm was off the charts. Tuesday morning I rose before dawn filled with drive and readiness to write, only to find someone sleeping where I work. Our guest hadn't yet found a place to go. In fact, it would take all the way until Thursday evening before our guest found another host as they wait for the elusive visa that will allow them to depart Hong Kong.

I don't have a laptop, I work from a desktop computer in the middle of my cozy desk filled with little items which inspire me and keep me on task (and a killer view of the South China Sea). And even if I had a laptop, working in a coffee shop isn't ideal for me... I can barely even read in a coffee shop because all I want to do is people watch! So my options for being productive outside my home are limited. I could feel my burst of enthusiasm draining each day while I waited to get back to work. I sensed my growing disappointment over the wave of productivity slipping away from me.

In the midst of my discontent, I decided to practice a little gratitude. Topping my list: that even though we are living in the smallest (and most expensive) home we've ever had, we do actually have a space where we can host someone in need. Also: I live in a vibrant, amazing city, with more things to do and see than lifetimes to do and see them all. So early Thursday morning I grabbed my AirPods, transit card, and sense of adventure, and left the house (and the still-sleeping houseguest) and decided to wander Hong Kong solo.

Far from feeling any disappointment over what I wasn't creating, I joyfully filled my brain with the sights and sounds (and smells) of neighborhoods all over Hong Kong Island. I actually tried to purposely get lost, taking the MTR train to a random station, walking until I came to a tram and boarding the first one, staying aboard until the final stop. I meandered without goal by foot for close to three miles until I came to a neighborhood filled with little restaurants with not a single word of English on the menus. It was glorious. I felt so alive, living the life I usually write about.

I came home absolutely beaming ear to ear as the sun started dipping over the horizon. I discovered two pieces of good news after walking through my door. First, the houseguest had found another safe place to stay, and second, I'd received some residual income for previous writing work. I walked on air all weekend, just waiting for Monday morning, to get back into my office and get back to work.

That amazing wave of unused productivity I had a week ago is long gone. It would have been nice to ride it, expertly and efficiently. But one lesson already tattooed on my brain, just a few months into this year of discipline, is how capable I am of making my own wave. It is summoned through force of habit, stubbornness, and sheer grit. I'm in this for the long game, not just three frustrating days of lost time at my computer. I mean... not 17-million-years-Grand-Canyon long game, but I'm not ruling it out either! I will keep putting one foot in front of the other, one word after the next, until I get where I want to go.

What about you, Friends? What are you working on this week? Please know I'm cheering you on from my computer desk in Hong Kong! GO MAKE WAVES!

Thank you for this amazing graphic, Dallas Clayton!

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