Keeping Heart in a Paper Ocean

For weeks I have been paddling through a paper ocean.  

I’ve been on a mission to get a book project complete and the only way it was going to happen was if I jumped into it wholeheartedly.

So, splash. In I went.

Beginning was easy. I was full of hope. I had a vision and I was buoyed up on enthusiasm.

Yet the further into the project I travelled, the more I realised what an immense task I’d taken on. The shore was a long way off and my destination was nowhere in view. 

Suddenly it was all The Life of Pi in my head – except we were talking survival of the brain rather than the body.

On some days I could be found floating at my desk, banging my head against the wood in frustration. Other days I would just slump, chewing my pencil and gazing, glassy eyed at the paper all around me. Other days I made real progress and was all, “I’m flyyyyying” like Kate Winslet in the Titanic. Then the next day I could be found mentally dehydrated, with thought scorched eyeballs, seeing mirages of a completion every time I tried to work. 

I think I may have grabbed at the ankles of anyone who dared walk to close … but we won’t talk about that.

The voyage was epic. Monumental. Exhausting.

Had my heart not been in it, I’d have jumped ship ages ago. But thankfully (she says on bended knee, with hands clasped in prayer position, eyes pleading skyward and offerings of guava and holy peaches on gem encrusted platters) thankfully, the shore is in sight and completion is near.

I think (this could be another mirage, I’m not sure) I have completed the new version of Grow Your Own Gorgeousness – the version that later on this year will be printed up in the hot mango groves of India.

It also means something wonderful. I means something so fantastic, so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes. It means … it means … It means I can actually tidy up.

I can tidy up my home studio floor. I no longer have to wade through piles of scattered paper.

So today, without delay, I got cracking and as I cleared and thumbed through all of the excess pages, the writings that didn’t make it, the wrong turnings, the piles and piles of rough drafts, I thought back over my papery ocean voyage. It seems crazy that it was necessary to create all this stuff – all this excess – before it could be reduced down into the final product. It seems miraculous that anything ordered has emerged from the chaos at all.

And now I’ve nearly got to the completion place, it’s so easy to look back and be all “yeah, you know. I knew I’d get there eventually”, but when you are lost in the middle of a sea and you don’t know if you’re moving in the right direction or if it’s ever going to happen it takes massive energy. It takes courage. It takes wholeheartness. It takes so much gulping that your neck starts to feel burny in a “I’m coming down with something” sort of way. But you keep going.  

Interestingly, the root of the word courage – cor or coeur – is “heart”. And is it any coincidence that when our heart is in something, we can always find the courage to keep going?

It’s been said that the original meaning of the word courage was to “speak whole heartedly” … to speak from your heart … or to put your heart on the line by sharing openly with others what you authentically are and believe in.

In the old days when sailors set forth into unknown seas, they were casting themselves into vulnerability with only trust in themselves and their vision/quest/belief to sustain them. Courage means trust and trust resides in the heart.

Do you have your heart in what you are doing?

Another thing that struck me while deciding which papers to keep and which to recycle, was how often our lives seem full of wrong turnings, mistakes, bad decisions and missed opportunities, yet out of this a path often becomes clear. The loose ends suddenly begin to start tying up and before we know it, something tangible and purposeful seems to be emerging.

Where are you in the paper ocean?

Are you in the middle of something, a journey, a project you want to complete and yet the way forward seems unclear?

Have you embarked upon an adventure or dream of some sort and suddenly the reality of what you’ve taken on has dawned on you?

Are you at a point in your life where you feel lost at sea, as if there is no way forward or no way back? 

If you are, take heart, my loveliness. This post has floated to you for a reason. It is like a little message in a bottle to give you hope and courage.

It says stay brave. You are going to get there. Even on the days when none of it makes sense and you’re paddling for all you are worth but the currents are pushing against you, just have a look at this incredible, beautiful, achingly painful, deliciously sweet, bonkers of a divine comedy called life and laugh heartily. Keep heart. It is all good. (The people who are lost at sea and aren’t going to make it are reading another blog). You chose the right one. And guess what? You make it.

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2 thoughts on “Keeping Heart in a Paper Ocean

  1. Bless. Congrats on the final phases! I love when I have completed work and can move on to studio clean up and next projects. I dig how you worked such heart into this post. 🙂

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