Yin and Yang and that Other Thang

SOMETIMES YOU LITERALLY JUST CAN’T EVEN (Part One)

At times, perhaps more than I’d like to admit, it feels as though my creative well runs dry. Not only that, I struggle to find the motivation to actually be creative, the desire to write lessens, and my work starts to lose authenticity.

You can call it writer’s block, but I associate it more with being burnt out. Being worn thin, drained of imagination, and weighed down by a mind full of molasses. As you can guess, staying productive and remaining inspired during these times is less than easy; the process starts to feel forced and the words become hallow.

My first solution was to seek out ways to keep writing and to push beyond my limitations. I was not successful, but I did learn something along the way: it’s best to just stop and take a break.

Let sleeping dogs lie and take a day or two to relax and reconnect – occupy your mind with a new task and allow yourself to recharge. Find a distraction from whatever it is that has brought you to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion and accept that you can’t always be ‘on’.

Sometimes you literally just can’t even… and that’s okay.  

This holds true for any creative outlet, sport, project, or hobby. A short absence and recharge are as important to the process as hard work and dedication; they offer the opportunity to reconnect with your inspiration or purpose and rejuvenate that internal drive to succeed. That said, be wary of falling victim to the subtle art of procrastinationby keeping your downtime controlled and purposeful. It’s easier to keep the ball rolling than to move it from a standstill.

Here’s the best part, once you’re back in the saddle you’ll find fresh ideas, improved technique, and sharper skills appear. The effort you’ve put in – the blood, sweat, and tears – pays off and it all seems worth it again.

The ship rights itself and the sea returns to a calm.

So don’t be afraid to step away when things aren’t clicking. You have not been defeated; you are only strengthening yourself for the battle to come.

LIFE DOESN’T HAND OUT PARTICIPATION RIBBONS (Part Two)

The battle is what brings us to part two of finding Yin and Yang and that Other Thang: life is a lot more fun when you’re winning.

As hard as it is to accept, Charlie Sheen’s rants about winning hold legitimacy if you consider them from a certain perspective, one far less fueled by drugs and alcohol, of course. Simply put, it’s easier to remain positive when you’re achieving success and reaching your goals, and if you’re an athlete at any level, you’ll agree that the game is more enjoyable when you come out on top.

Yet some of life’s greatest lessons are taught through our failures.

That said, being bluntly told we have failed and that our effort isn’t good enough is less common than it once was. Everybody is congratulated for trying their best and we all receive participation ribbons so that nobody feels left out.

However, the notion that there are no losers, that everybody finishes in first place, is foreign to me. Some students don’t get held back a year despite underperforming and having a failing grade; they receive a pass and get moved ahead anyway. True or not, I struggle with the idea of being given a free ride but remaining ignorant to the fare – there’s nothing learned, and typically, that’s not how life works.

It’s the experiences that force you to face the reality of losing, being told your work is sub-par, or getting held back and passed over that teach you the most. Being shown your wrongdoings highlights the areas needing improvement, and if you’re keen, improving is exactly what you’ll do to prevent yourself from failing a second time.  

To learn how to win, first you must learn how to lose.

Winning doesn’t happen overnight either. It requires sacrifice, hard work, and an intrinsic motivation that doesn’t waiver when the struggle is real and shit hits the fan – it comes with the aforementioned blood, sweat, and tears and the unpleasant sensation of failure.

Use that bitter taste of defeat as incentive to improve your worth, increase your skillset, and to become the best version of yourself. Consider your past shortcomings as knowledge to draw upon in the future and don’t back down from fear. Put your nose to the grind and dedicate yourself to self-development each day. Set yourself up for winning and take advantages of the opportunities around you.   

Life isn’t going to hand you a participation ribbon, you must earn one and take it for yourself!

“THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS”

Yin and Yang is the concept of dualism, two opposing forces coming together and creating stability rather than chaos. These forces, whatever they may be, compliment each other despite their differences and become interconnected to make the whole greater than its parts.

In a way, Part One and Part Two of Yin and Yang and that Other Thang are opposite in nature. One speaks to the need for relaxation and reconnection, while Two voices the importance of sacrifice and hard work; one requires downtime, and the other demands that you never give up.

It goes without saying, the key is finding balance between the two to create harmony in your life – everything is better with moderation, as they say.

Now, by no means am I a life coach or self-development guru, and I’m not trained, nor am I qualified, to set you on the path of success. I’m not trying to get you to change your lives either, I attempt only to do that for myself and share my experiences with an audience of my peers.

I make note of the following with this in mind:

  1. Developing and maintaining positive habits is a lot harder to do than giving up and reverting to negative behavior – be resilient and remember winning takes sacrifice. It’s just a hell of a lot more fun than losing and offers sweeter rewards
  2. Sustaining your winning streak requires a few rest days now and again to heal your mind, body, and soul – life is a long-term game involving foresight. Neil Young sings “it’s better to burn out than to fade away,” but I’ll argue being “the strong one in the long run” is for the best
  3. Happiness and success come with finding a middle ground and creating a healthy work/life balance – form a bond with Yin and Yang in all elements of your life. Tipping the scale one way or the other is unhealthy and leads to disorder

When I hear the saying “live your best life,” I don’t envision myself on a luxurious vacation, partying on an island, and not having to worry about real-world responsibilities.

Admittedly, that scenario has its appeal, but I believe your best life comes with dedication (blood, sweat, and tears) to your passions and being triumphant in your efforts. I also picture the little things like the joy of laughing with friends and family; I recognize the importance of a day away from the office, and I value walks along the water with my partner and our pipsqueak of a dog.

I discover contentment with Yin and Yang and that Other Thang!

The Davis Daily