"Test your limits. How will you know what's possible if you never push that personal threshold?" - Scott Todnem
Words of my past, meant for inspiration. Advice to heed. A recommendation to follow. And like anything I write, it's a message for myself just as much as it is for others.
See, the path of least resistance is so easy to follow, it's like a slide. Success is an instinctual desire, but complacence is exponentially less stressful. Of course, less stress means fewer challenges in life, and fewer challenges mean little change. And since purposeful change and constant adaptation are the essence of good, healthy living, the easiest way out is not always the best.
There are times in life when veering onto this easy road begins internally. After all, the easy road of complacence lacks bumps or obstacles-- seemingly, and incorrectly, avoiding challenge is a smooth and stress-free ride. Inside, the easy road is listening to self-doubt and self-loathing or beating ourselves down with self-deprecation. The easy road is giving in to self-hate and self-harm because fighting through adversity means having to trek through the mental jungle of emotional carnage. The easy road is ceding to the beasts of negative self-concept and poor self-esteem. Not stress-free at all.
But there are other days when the easy road will not suffice. When it's not okay to just get by. A time where we fight to overcome negative self-talk since it only causes distress in itself. We realize we were meant to do so much more than just exist-- we were destined to live.
Rarely are we forced to be anything. Instead, that's exactly what we get to be.
What were we destined to do and to be? What lies ahead? Is there a passion, a calling, or will things fall into place in a series of small victories, like success and happiness through trials and tribulations?
Our destiny, in many ways, goes by another, perhaps more readily-accessible title: our decisions.
In this epiphany we come to the realization that no one can live life for us. No one can perform every action, feel every emotion, or think every thought. When push comes to shove, we must make our own decisions. We must face our own challenges, dig our heels into the dirt, and be ready to pounce at first movement.
These are the times to bite the bullet, brace for some turbulence, and attack the day. It might be painful, but it's totally necessary.
This is the battle of slaying your dragon.
• • •
Writing has always been my dragon.
It has been this imaginary entity in the shadows, incubating and feeding in some dark cave deep within, waiting for the right time to rear it's beautifully ugly head and challenge me to an epic duel.
Me: just a man. The dragon: a full-length novel.
It has been so easy to give in to self-doubt. Avoiding confrontation with this beast is the easy road... and one I've been known to take. I've sidestepped the battle through small deflections of writing shorts and blog posts. Never an opus.
What if I fail? I can't possibly write a novel... how would it ever get published anyway?
Authoring a book was always improbable, if not impossible. Even as a pipe dream, a novel was so far in the future that it seemed unattainable. And if something is difficult to achieve, we are afraid to even start.
Once we begin a difficult journey, however, once we set our sights, create a goal, and focus on a plan of action, it's funny how achievable it all becomes.
I want to write a book. Therefore, I will write a book.
It came as a decision, in many ways, but in others it's an unchosen destiny that keeps resurfacing through the years like a dragon of yore, swooping down upon the village that is my brain.
To slay this dragon, I need to approach it with intelligence. I need to creep up quietly as it sleeps, its empty pages rustling in the burning snores of unsuspecting arrogance.
I began blogging after years of writing song lyrics and toying with personal poetry. I began a website to host other writers after years of blogging. All the while I pondered the possibility of a book. My book.
"Someday. Someday eventually, maybe, perhaps... I can attempt a novel?"
As it goes, there are seven days in a week, and "someday" isn't one of them.
So now the time has come to stop taking the easy road, to stop listening to internal doubts. The time has come to sneak up to the winged, fire-breathing beast, heart racing, hands shaking, sweat dripping, but more sure of myself than ever because of one major realization: I am the one holding the sword. Sure, in this case it's shaped like a pen and the dragon scales are lettered keys waiting to be punched in the right sequence, but, dammit, I've got this thing in my sights and I'm taking it down in a wrath of worded fury.
It is that, it is this fiery confidence, that will allow me to persevere. After all, there's no such thing as a dragon.
But even if I do somehow fail, even if nothing comes of this novel pursuit and I'm tossed to the side in nothing but a singed, smoky mess, at least I will have gone out in a fighting blaze.
Even that in itself is a story worth writing.