Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Playing it safe

Last night Andrew and I watched Star Trek: TNG like we often do during dinner, and even though I knew it was cheesy, this episode got under my skin. Q takes Picard back in time to "undo" some of the follies of his youth. In this version of his past, Picard avoids a fight that had ended with him getting stabbed. Q then transports him back to the present, but instead of being captain, Picard is a low-level officer--dependable, does his job well, but not the material to take on command. The gist? If as a youth, Picard was the kind of person who played it safe, he never would have faced death, never learned his lessons, never learned to take smarter risks. He just always did what was necessary to get by, and floated through life, directionless and without success. 

Success in terms of career and money and power aren't important to me, but the show made me realize it's all too easy for me to be that passionless, aimless version of Picard. My tendency is not to take risks, not to do anything to stand out from the crowd. I can be (usually) dependable and steady, and I can exist comfortably, but I'm not happy with that. The artists who have made a life out of their creative impulses work really hard. They've made sacrifices and taken risks. Did I mentioned they've worked really hard?

It helps to remember that I have applied for and graduated from a masters program. I have trained for and completed a marathon. I've been accepted to a writing workshop. But in the last few weeks, I feel like I've been floating through life, not making much effort to write, or even to connect with local bookstores and literary organizations. I haven't been sending work out. I haven't been applying (yet) for jobs I might like. It's like I'm afraid to fail on the one hand, and a little afraid to succeed on the other hand. 

I will set aside time to write. I will send my work out bravely, boldly, when it's ready. I will make plans and be social and put myself forward to the kinds of people I want to spend more time with--writers and book people. I must stop playing it safe. If I feel myself hesitating or moving something to the back burner, most likely the better response is to take action. Do it now. Say yes. 

If this sounds a little self-helpy, I apologize. It's for me that I write this. I'm the one who needs a kick in the pants. I don't want to be a star-fleet captain, but I do want to be more in charge of my own life. That is all.

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