So many people say they want to write or create, but can’t get started. Some start, but then can’t finish. Recently, I had a conversation with an aspiring writer friend about her struggles to get started. I got the impression that she thought writing was easy for me or that I had some special powers.
I certainly don’t have a secret portal where I stop time and write, so I really thought about how I’ve managed time and came up with a visual.
For me, it’s like there are two layers of life: one on top, and one on bottom. The top layer is all the stuff. All the things of all the days–family, work, the schedule, home projects, walking the dog, feeding the kids, homework, laundry, laundry, laundry, obligations, appointments, etc. The bottom layer is where I get to me, just for me, all about me, selfishly for me.
Mostly for me, this bottom layer is writing. But for you, it may be anything you love that doesn’t fit into that top layer, maybe because you think it’s indulgent. It may be something creative or something personal, but it’s something that fills your soul. Your big secret love. You think about it all the time, but since it’s something that keeps you from attending to the top layer, you push it aside.
I love the top layer, I do, and I recognize its importance. It’s on the top for a reason. But no matter how much I love the top layer, it doesn’t remove my love for the bottom layer.
Maybe some people think that one who loves and devotes time to the bottom layer must not love the top layer enough. Some people may think getting to the bottom layer is selfish and/or indulgent.
But guess what I’ve learned? It’s not a competition between the top and the bottom. Ideally, you find a way to satisfy both layers, and . . . ready for this . . . not feel guilty.
I believe a full life can be had on the top and if people are truly happy up there, then great. Hang out on the top and live the life you want to live. Sometimes, though, for some of us, that bottom beckons. Why is it so hard to dive through the top and check out the bottom?
For one thing, people get caught up in the top layer, understandably so. Some people, no matter how much they want it, no matter the draw to the bottom, they simply can’t get out of the top layer. There’s just too much to do, too many appointments, too many responsibilities and the schedule doesn’t allow movement. Twenty-four hours isn’t enough, and the top layer can take up the whole darn day. Time fills up quickly.
Other people have the time, but something stops them from escaping the top layer. Maybe they’re afraid to let go of the top and head to the bottom. The top is where you can fill your life with the things. As mentioned, I think filling your life on the top is perfectly fine. It’s safe, it’s admirable, it’s productive. It’s where you are validated.
It’s easier to float on the top than to dive into the deep unknown. You may have to be vulnerable on the bottom, you may have to deal with failure, you may have to push yourself as a beginner. You may get to the bottom and struggle, when maybe on the top, you’re an expert.
But I also think there’s a group that hangs on top because they never discovered their bottom. They don’t know what fills their souls in that selfish, secret love type of way. Maybe they try to check it out down there, but the bottom can be scary. It’s where you have to know yourself aside from the stuff on the top that may define you.
On some days, I get stuck on top, happy and voluntarily. On others, I desperately try to dive to the bottom but get stuck on top, regardless. Yet I find that on most days, I sacrifice things on top to get to the bottom–I skip a lunch date, I stay up late even though I know I have to get up early (to take care of top layer stuff), I don’t clean a closet or do a desperately-needed chore. Dust builds, clothes pile up, I forget to call X about Y. A text message or email goes unanswered.
For the longest time, I had guilt over this. Weren’t the top things the things that mattered most? Especially as a woman and a mother, this is drilled into our heads–our families have to be smiling, our friends attended to, our kids should be busy and our spouse as happy as he or she can possibly be, in a home as perfect as we can make it. Oh, and go to work, too, and make some money! Lean in, people!
ARGH! No wonder it’s so hard to get to the bottom!
Writing, for me, isn’t a top layer thing. It’s not like words magically appear in my head and find their way to the laptop as I move through my days. I have to get to the bottom and then I have to work for it. Every word written is a challenge, every minute I devote to writing, a privilege.
No matter what your bottom is, if you want to indulge it (and repeat after me: indulgence is not a bad word), you can. I truly believe that. By making the choice, putting in the effort, and finding love for yourself and whatever your bottom may be, time comes along. For some who are overwhelmed on top, the dive to the bottom takes a lot of effort and sacrifice. Maybe too much. I get that and I’m sorry.
But if the bottom beckons, I suggest trying to check it out, even if you have to sacrifice just a bit. Now that I’ve stopped trying to be perfect on top and realized that on the bottom I get to write, let me tell you–it’s magic down there. And honestly, I truly believe my time on the bottom helps me be better on the top.
I hope that you all find a way to explore the bottom, too.
Thanks for reading 🙂