What’s In The Center?

butterfly1When we last left Betsy and the others who live in her mind, they were lounging on a grassy pasture beside a large, placid lake, feeling a distinct lack of motivation. Then the Muse showed up and kicked their butts. Betsy’s companions – Harry, Skipper, Clara, Coffee, and the Blogosphere, have all run off to start doing whatever it is they do. Well, all except the Blogosphere, who has gone off to sulk in another corner of the Internet. But Betsy has stayed behind. She is still sitting in the grass, staring at the lake.

What in the world is going on now? Let’s see….

 

*The Muse approaches Betsy* *Blades of grass do not bend under her bare feet as she walks*

You didn’t go off with the others. *Muse tilts her head* What’s up?

*Betsy pulls out a blade of grass and spins it between her fingers* *She does not look at the Muse*  Something’s not right.

Ahhh. You finally noticed. *Muse settles down beside her* Have you figured out what it is?

*Betsy glances at her, then away* I think so.

*Muse leans back on her hands* What is it?

*Betsy turns to face her* I’m trying to do too much, and I’m just treading water, especially with my writing.

Hmmm. You think?

Yes. I’ve forgotten about you because I’m trying to do too many other things. Or I’ve pushed you aside. *Betsy looks down* I’m not sure which.

You’ve still been working, which is something. *Muse looks over at Betsy* But it’s not the work alone that matters, you know. It’s the intention and focus behind the work. You’ve gotten distracted from your main task.

*Betsy droops* I know. I feel like I’m being pulled in all sorts of different directions.

*Muse sits up and turns to face Betsy* They are all good directions.

They are? *Betsy frowns* I’m confused.

The fact that they’re all good is the biggest problem. You really DO need to do all of them. You need to clean and get the print books set up and get outside and walk and all that.

Okay. *Betsy thinks* *Shakes head* No, sorry. I still don’t get it. If they’re all good things to do, why do I feel this way?

*Muse looks at Betsy intensely* They’re good directions, but you’re giving everything an equal priority. You can’t do that. You can’t divide up the center of your life. What’s in the center needs to be the most important thing, and whatever else you do needs to support it. But the center needs to be the focus, and the focus can’t be split.

*Betsy bites her lip* But my list…

*Muse leans forward* See, your list is good because it gets you moving. But now it’s become the focus, not what you’re actually doing to get the check-mark on your calendar.

Are you saying that my list rules me?

Yes. And you can’t be ruled by a list or a check-mark. You need to be ruled by your center. *taps Betsy on the chest* In here.

And…you?

*Muse spreads her arms* You’re a writer. Writers write. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer. You’re something else, but not a writer. Writing is not a “task” for you. Writing is not something that “needs to be done”. Writing is your center, so you have to make sure you put it there.

*Betsy frowns* But…I can’t just ignore everything else.

No. You can’t totally withdraw from the other things you need to do. That’s the reality of life. You have to do them. You can’t push them off indefinitely and hope they’ll go away. You have to do them, and your list is a way to track that. But the important thing isn’t the list. The important thing is how doing those things work to support and enhance what is really the focus in your life.

And that’s the writing?

You know the answer to that. The center is the work. YOUR work. For you, that’s writing books and stories. For other people it’s being a mother, or running a business, or sculpting, or whatever it is that they were placed on this earth to do. But for you, it’s writing. So, even though the other things you’re trying to do are good, and even necessary, you have to remember what’s important, and put that in the center. Then the other things will fit around it.

*Betsy thinks* I’m not giving writing enough importance in my life.

No. The other things seem easier, or they seem like they’re more urgent, or they just bug you. You say that you’ll  get them done so you can concentrate on writing, instead of doing the writing first.

And a lot of times, I never get to the writing. Or if I do, I just do the minimum.

*Muse smiles* And that, for YOU, in your life, is not the best way to handle things.

*Betsy thinks* So I need to re-evaluate. Give the writing importance in my day. Let the other things fall in place around it. *Looks at Muse* Find my center again.

*Muse nods* Find the center, then live from that. *pats Betsy’s cheek* Give it the focus, no matter what else comes your way. No matter if you only have five minutes a day when your other responsibilities aren’t driving you wild. In your mind, in your heart, it’s the important thing. Find your center, and live from that.

*Betsy bites her lip* Nobody else will understand. Everyone will think I’m strange or delusional. It’s not like I’m setting the world on fire.

*Muse shakes her head* That doesn’t matter. Don’t let that stop you from doing what you know is the right thing. Besides, people already think you’re strange.

They do?

Duh. *Muse stands* Do what you know is best in your life.

*Betsy thinks* *Draws in a long breath* Okay.

*Muse nods* Okay.

To be continued…

 

You must know the difference between what’s important and what’s urgent, and you must do what’s important first. And what’s important is the work.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

 

muse-Calliope

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Comments

  1. You know, I have always had a problem with that very thing. If it’s urgent, then it needs to be done NOW (or, really, really soon) so doesn’t that MAKE it important? If you have something on your list to do, and it’s not important, why put it on the list in the first place? Thus, wouldn’t writing be equally urgent as important? You MUST get it done to meet the deadline; to finish the story; to get it to print; to change your income stream, etc. Is going to school important or urgent? Both, right? So, this is the same thing!

    • Betsy Horvath says:

      @Athena: The problem is that you can get caught up in a whirlwind of urgent things, and the things that are the most important to YOU in your life get shoved to the side. I’m not talking about life and death urgency – obviously that’s different. But in my life there’s so much that I feel is urgent because someone else or society demands it, and I’m not giving what’s really important to me, um, importance. 😀

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