Man, don’t you just hate when you ram into a wall? You know, you’re motoring at break-neck speed, clicking things off your list, charged with inspiration and happier than a hummingbird in sugar water. And then, wham! Out of nowhere looms an immovable object smack dab in your way.
And you’ve just slammed into it. What’s a person to do?
At first of course you can’t do one danged thing. You have to sit back, try and un-dizzy your head before you can even take a breath. Force a swallow to ease your queasy stomach. Let the tears flow for a time and then dry them. Then inhale long and see what’s left once the sorrowful dust settles.
Life is like that. When we start something new or renew an old dream, we aren’t thinking of obstacles, but rather, focusing on the goal. We think positive and smile and feel the enjoyment of the fruits of our labors. We don’t listen to naysayers but only those encouraging voices (from within and without) telling us, “We got this!” And then . . .
A great spiritual teacher of mine, Charlotte Dunhill, always says that when you take a stand for something right, all the wrongs rise up to test you. And that idea sure helps me to continue once that happens—knowing that the crap comes to squash the good. That at least gets me over the hump of self-pity, realizing that I’m not the only cosmic fluke in this universe. And one step past that is to focus back on the goal and see how to get through that stinking wall.
Because we know that’s gonna happen. I guess there are successful folks who’ve never hit a wall in their pursuits, but I don’t actually know them personally. The people I know get to walk through lots of trials and tribulations on the way to glory, whether in the sporting arena or reaching for the brass ring in their chosen fields.
Authors know this oh-so-well. Rejection is a given in this game. Whether it’s criticism from a writer’s group, a no from a much-wanted agent, getting agented and then a no from the absolutely perfect publishing house for your book (although they still don’t know it!), the book coming out and a bad review—the list is endless. All writers feel (and tell me every day! LOL) that in their naivety, they wanted to hear of their first novels: “Not a word needs changing. You are Nobel material.” And every variation on that theme.
I think that comes with the narcissism especially required for writing a novel. You have to believe in your own greatness, or you’d never have the fortitude to even begin this in the first place, much less follow the process through. It’s quite daunting, actually, on all levels. The deepest of course being that your core is literally bared. We’re not selling bread dough here, but our very hearts and souls. And rejection in those places smarts a bit.
But every person who strives for a goal faces rejection and setbacks at some point. And of course we all know that it’s in the getting up and dusting off of things that greatness truly lies. It’s the fortitude to keep going when your dreams are shattered that separates the women from the girls.
I actually think cats have the best idea. When one misses its mouse, it doesn’t sit there and beat itself up, thinking ‘I’m such a bad mouser. I’ll never catch my prey. I’ll never hunt again!’ No. The cat licks its paws, waves its tail, if anything thinks, ‘Stupid mouse,’ and goes to find another to slay. Difficult to effect if you’re a human rather than a feline, but that attitude helps me.
And oh, the happiness, the outright joy that then scaling, chipping through, blowing up—however you get past that wall—gives you! What an accomplishment! And it makes all of the heartache worth it, and then some. Even if you’re the only person in the world who truly knows what you went through, you know. And there is such nobility in that.
Because as the beautiful Randy Pausch said, “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
How do you get through yours?