Bright Ideas

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how I continue to get in the way of my own goals, and most of the time it’s just due to my own insecurities. My self-doubt’s a constant companion. The other day I was on the highway heading toward Fresno when I started feeling a sense of general anxiety, not about anything in particular, but then I envisioned my anxiety as a passenger. I had to treat this passenger well. Buckle up, my friend. Because in truth all of these negative feelings aren’t enemies of ours, trying to mess up our lives.

They can serve a function, but sometimes they’re dysfunctional. I started to think about how each emotion doesn’t come from somewhere outside ourselves, but within. A no-brainer, perhaps? But we seem to think of the best of emotions, such as joy, as something that happens to us by a stroke of luck, like some thunderbolt of joy sent down from the heavens. Yet that’s not the case — it was already in us. We just had to tap into it. While I thought about that, I actually started feeling a sense of joy. Perhaps joy was nudging anxiety off the passenger seat. Rude?

Meanwhile, I’m zooming along the highway, giving myself constant reminders that rather than thinking about these things while driving, I should pay attention. So I worked on paying attention better, finding this easier if I sent thought of gratitude and appreciation and connection to my fellow drivers. It occurred to me that these metal shells we call cars go a long way toward blocking our sense of people as people. I mean, we know there are people driving the cars, and sometimes we see them, but most of the time we just see the cars. We get cut off, or they pass us (or we pass them, hopefully while following the speed limit). I had this thought of people, still in sitting position, hovering mid-air as they traveled. Then as I was driving past houses, I imagined that instead of seeing all these houses, we saw all the people in these houses.

We are so closed off to each other much of the time, like we’re hiding from the world in one way or another. What a shame if we also close ourselves off emotionally, presenting only a guise that we wear. I try to be authentic. It helps that I have long vowed to practice honesty. But even with this promise, I realize I have thousands of “I’m good. And you?” responses to the question asked of “How are you?” when in fact I wasn’t really good. That, then, is a soft lie. It’s a lie that wasn’t intending to be a lie, just an automatic and somewhat expected response. I’ve been working on this, however, by answering truthfully without overburdening strangers who weren’t expecting anything than the automatic. “Eh. Not the best of days, but I’m alive! And you?”

And I realize this post may actually qualify as a ramble by now, but that’s alright. The truth is the real reason I came here to write anything at all wasn’t so much that I had some burning desire to express any of this, but that I have the burning desire to be a writer. And since I want to be a writer, I have to write even though I’m not actually in the mood to write a lot of the time. I usually don’t know what to write about. I don’t know what to say. I question all my thoughts like an interrogator. Who are you, anyway? And where were you on the night that the last chocolate chip cookie disappeared from the kitchen?

I find myself watching a ton of motivational videos about changing my life, whenever I have free time. All of this is good input, and clearly it’s beginning to have an impact. Watching, however, is not the same as actually taking the necessary steps to practice writing. The book, the story, the post, none of it gets written during those times I watch the videos.

I am here, then, with a word or two. I have a story to tell in a thousand parts and I have yet to see how it will be told. Perhaps you know.

Bright ideas are a great place to begin, illuminating our minds in the way they need to be illuminated. Practice is where those ideas will unfold.

Now get moving.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

Comments are awesome. I approve positive comments, even if you disagree with me. I don't approve comments that are negative, even if you're agreeing with me.