As I wade in my self-imposed pool of excuses on this beautiful fall afternoon, I wonder what it is that I am truly making excuses for. Why do I keep myself from doing things that I really do want to do? What am I hiding from? If I take a deep look and shift through my guarded bullshit, I find a scared little boy. A boy whom is afraid to take a significant leap in any direction for no apparent reason at all, other than a misguided complacent comfort. It’s easy to do nothing. Its safe, its what we know and its completely controllable with minimal effort.
For example – I want to write. I love writing. It is a calming place for me to go, but it’s also a scary place for me to go. My mind wanders constantly with fantastical ideas of stories, poems, rantings, etc. that I want to write down and share, but when I put pen to paper, I hesitate. The ideas I felt in my mind suddenly become self aware when faced with a penned actuality. I get an overwhelming feeling that I will not be able to adequately translate what I saw in my head down on paper. So, a lot of times I don’t. My excuse…I’m not a good writer, so it just doesn’t matter anyway. With each excuse fades away another idea, whether truly good or not, left to die with the unknown.
It’s funny how I allow an unknown dictate my decisions. It’s an unknown. The outcome could be either what I want, what I fear or a completely different outcome I did not think of and yet when I choose to not take that leap, I automatically end up with the outcome I feared…failure. But it’s easy to disguise this failure. After all, I didn’t attempt writing what I wanted to. I didn’t have to go through the struggle of trying, there isn’t any physical evidence that I failed so in a sense – out of sight, out of mind. It never happened. Wrong. The only thing I succeeded at was making up an excuse to mask my failure. It was the easy way out.
Even as I sit here writing this, I want to delete it. However, to my extreme mixed pleasure, I sometimes conquer my fear and actually get something out of my mind. Some writings are better than others and other times they are complete shit, but regardless of the outcome, it feels fantastic. It feels fantastic to break complacency and live in the world just outside my guarded box. Yes there is a risk of failure, but our accomplishments would not feel as grand if their wasn’t that risk of failure. Life without risk, is not a life at all. One can never grow without reaching outside their comfort zone and chasing risk. Even if that risk is as simple as writing down what’s on your mind.
I want to share a quote from one of my favorite authors and inspirations that helps remind me to keep reaching beyond my fear.
“Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut
I believe this quote goes beyond just the arts. It transcends over everything we do and want to accomplish, but are too afraid of making the effort in fear of failing. The majority of life is made up of decisions that are not a matter of life and death, so what is truly the worse that can happen? I’ll tell you what the worse is that can happen…that you never try. So why make excuses? Go out and accomplish what you truly want. The fact that you are reading this is proof that I just did and it feels damn good.
Bryce McEfee is one of the founding members of Last Week’s Memoir. He writes stories (like this and this) and serves as the chief business manager and all around rabble rouser for the Sacramento based art/story ultra lounge web upstart. Most days you can find him pretending to write a novel about his life long love for zombies, kicking around a soccer ball annoyingly wherever he goes, doing that thing he does to make real money and last, but certainly not least, spending time with his little hellion of a kitten and angelic wife.