Friday, October 31, 2014

The Trap of Enthusiasm


It’s fun to be enthusiastic about a commitment.  It creates energy and motivation.  What’s even more powerful is when there is no little or no enthusiasm, but the commitment is just as strong.  In fact, it’s stronger.  Enthusiasm is an emotion, and a wonderful emotion, but no emotion lasts and this is the trap of enthusiasm.  If we believe it, or if we invest too much belief in its power, we don’t know what to do when it’s gone.  Enthusiasm sometimes feels like love, but it’s actually more closely related to infatuation.
Infatuation sometimes gets a bad name.  There’s not anything wrong with infatuation.  It feels good.  Like enthusiasm it creates energy, joy even, but it also doesn’t last.  So if enthusiasm and infatuation don’t last, what is needed?  Commitment and love are needed.  Emotions are tricky.  They can be, as I said, a trap, because we believe that we will always feel that good, that excited.   My own experience has proven otherwise.  Before I write, I rarely feel enthusiastic.  Certainly, there are those times when my Muse gives me an idea and I can’t wait to start writing.   But most of the time, more than 90% of the time, I simply sit down and start working.  Often I have no idea what’s going to come out of my keyboard.  I just start working and eventually something happens.  I might have nothing more than an idea or a sentence of inspiration.  Sometimes I have only a word.  Tonight I had an idea.  Most of the time, when I approach the keyboard, I have nothing.  I just start writing and eventually something occurs.  Does it happen every time?   Almost.  And that’s when the enthusiasm comes – after, not before.  When I start writing and the ideas start to flow, I feel great.  But remember, I said “almost.”  What about those times when I write and write and nothing happens?  I keep writing anyway.  Sometimes the process takes longer.  But if nothing comes, if I write three or more pages and it’s all junk, then I delete and I come back the next day.
That’s the key.  That’s the secret.  I come back the next day.  And the next.  And the next.  And eventually, my enthusiasm comes back, too.  I am committed to my Muse, no matter how much or how little enthusiasm I feel.  Emotions are nice, but it’s not wise to put too much stock in them.  I’ve had times of great sadness and they have always passed.  When my best friend died at the age of 18, I thought I would never be happy again.  I was sure I would never have friends again.  I’ve also had times of great joy and happiness that I thought would never end.  Good times and bad times come and go like waves of the ocean.  But the ocean itself remains.  The water is always there.  It’s up to me if I want to dive in.
My Muse is my ocean.  I want to dive in every day.  This is a decision, borne not out of enthusiasm or excitement, though sometimes those are present; this is a decision borne out of love and commitment.  More specifically I tell myself that I’m going to write and I do.  There’s not always a feeling behind this – I just decide that I’m going to Get Started and Keep Going until the feeling returns.  I don’t look for it and I don’t try to manufacture it.  I simply do my work.
Love and creativity are very similar processes.  Feelings rise and fall, but commitment stays the same.  Determination stays the same.  And in this way, I avoid a lot of pain and fear.  I’m not looking for a feeling.  I’m looking for consistency and action.  The feelings will come when they are ready.  Love always comes at the right time.
All I do is Get Started and Keep Going…and avoid the trap.