Fear the Deer

Write. Just write. It doesn’t even matter what you write about or whether you have something to say. Just put some words down and see where it leads you.

Getting back into the habit is a pain in the proverbial ass — really it is. Doing so with an anxiety disorder is almost hellish. Struggling over every idea, every thought, every letter of every word and worrying about whether what you’re writing will be misconstrued in some gruesome manner by some random stranger you’ve never even met nor likely ever will is completely detrimental to any and all creative processes.

It’s like slamming the brakes because there might be a deer standing in the road ahead without any single shred of evidence that said deer even exists at this particular place and time.

Have I seen a deer on this patch of road before? No.

Is it a posted deer area? No.

Once the brakes have been applied you just sit there — waiting. Waiting for this deer that doesn’t even exist. Too afraid to move forward for fear the deer will suddenly come bounding out from the brush. Can’t go back, can’t go forward.

I’ve spent so much time in my life just sitting there with my foot on the brake. Paralyzed by all the fears of what-if. Just waiting for that dumb deer to jump out of nowhere.

It’s probably not the best metaphor — but this morning it seems to be the one that’s readily available as I’m lying here tap-tapping away at the keyboard with the hope that I can ease my foot off the brake and, at the very least, allow the vehicle to coast a few inches forward as I gingerly look each way searching for that elusive deer in the sidelines.

There’s nothing wrong with being cautious. It’s a survival thing. There is something wrong with being overly cautious to the point of stagnation.

I don’t want to be still. I don’t want to be quiet. I don’t want to simply exist for no purpose. It’s pure torture waking up each day with no purpose. Spending entire days arguing with yourself about whether you have any worth at all. Catching occasional glimpses of light and then making quick work of immediately covering that light with the darkest shadows.

I’m not in a position to hit the gas and go barreling ahead with no regard whatsoever for that deer, but I certainly am capable of easing off the brake, if only for a moment, to inch slowly and cautiously ahead, even if three inches later I’ll be slamming the brakes again.

Sometimes that’s the only way forward. Slow and cautious, with frequent breaks [brakes!] to re-evaluate and self-soothe, building up the ability to ease ahead yet another few inches.

This morning I’m trying to gain a few inches farther from the place I sat yesterday — and that’s all that I can ask of myself, to try, just try, to gain a few inches more each day. As long as I’m doing that — as long as I’m trying — I must be getting somewhere.

Those who can’t appreciate that and expect me to just stomp on the gas and go, well, those people just have no capacity to understand the constant, exhausting, self-defeating struggles I face every moment of every day. I can’t blame them because they’ve never really been where I am and all-things-good-in-the-universe-willing, they never will be either.

I wouldn’t wish this battle on anyone.

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