"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." – Wayne Gretzky
Author's note: This post is a revised version of a piece I wrote two years ago, that I believe to be worth sharing in public for the first time.
Everyone experiences those moments when they feel that they’re on top of the world. No matter how much money you have, the amount of time you have to spare, or how old you are, humans are connected in the scare, but beautiful moments when a surge of dopamine is sent through our bodies and inspires us to do more, and to do it better.
Do you know those moments? Those moments when you suddenly feel empowered to write a beautiful poem, or courageous enough to try a new recipe, to create something, explore anything? Even if we can reduce this sensation to sheer physiological reactions taking place in our brains, these are the times that enable you to make the leap you’ve never had the courage to. If you don't, look around you, be mindful, and you will find them.
A Brief Moment in Time
These moments are brief. How long it’ll last is unknown to us, and something tells me it will have passed by the time you arrive at the hospital to request someone look at your brain. It’s easy to assume, especially to those who have them frequently, that they’re too short for anything to be accomplished. Having had a number of blissful nights, I repeatedly found things to be the same as before when I woke up, returned to reality.
More and more, those moments of inspiration seemed to be a desperate attempt to escape a reality in which I had no direction.
These brief moments should not be a bridge to a goal or to an aspiration, but a stepping stone. You will not reach the goal you’ve been aspiring to reach for years if you are only now taking the first step. If you’ve been wanting to write a book, and it suddenly seems possible, your best-seller isn’t going to flow from your fingertips in one, euphoric evening. If it does, I would be grateful to meet and begin working with you on a project of my own.
Instead of attempting to take on the whole project, write one beautiful, captivating introduction. Or write the first scene, or a scene dead-center in the novel. Start anywhere you’d like. This is a step forward, a single step, and it’s the only one that matters. When you attempt to long-jump the entire journey, you will most certainly fall. When you take it a step at a time, you will almost certainly make it.
When you have taken your first step, and the inspiration wanes, let it. When you come back, evidence of your work will remain, and indeed, simply seeing the genius of your inspired masterpiece might send you on the road back to inspiration. Let a cycle be created.
Distractions and Waste
Is it that easy? That simple answer is: If we let it be.
Amidst a feel-good attitude, it’s tempting to become distracted. Facebook and Twitter screech your name, making you want to share with the world that you’re inspired, and doing nothing about it. We live in a world in which the most important aspect of our activities isn’t the joy they bring us, but the jealousy and joy they inspired in others. We mindlessly relinquish our ability to accomplish in these brief moments of added motivation, sharing with others and having nothing to show for it.
Thing is, when you’re inspired, nearly everything becomes fun. Break away from your normal tendencies during these times. Rather than distracting yourself—than wasting this precious moment that could be the precursor to changing your life—do something you’re passionate about, or that you’ve always been too afraid to do.
Cook something new. Write that paper you’ve been putting back. Quit your job. Talk to that girl, or guy. Whatever it is, do something. Don’t waste it.
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