An Excitable Boy

As a writer, you can spend a lot of time waiting for things to happen. You wait to hear from agents and from editors; you wait for the book to be published; you wait to find out how much the next advance will be. And always in this time of waiting there is the temptation to become excited about those possibilities that lie beyond the event for which you are waiting. I have decided recently that this is mistake, though perhaps not for the reasons you might think. There is that pragmatic bit about putting the cart before the horse and yes, keep the horse and cart where they belong. One should not buy the new car until the royalties are in the bank. But I believe this anticipatory excitement, which can appear to be enthusiasm for all that might be, is actually nothing more than that old bear fear, now in the Trojan horse of joy.

There is no need to become excited about what could be unless you secretly believe it might not be. If you believe in something, then you believe in it, and so there is nothing to be excited about. Excitement is just relief that what we feared might come true did not. So fear not, and believe instead.

I don’t understand the physics of it, but for some reason when I believe something will happen, when I cease to become excited about it happening, it happens all the more quickly. Every time. Perhaps I get out of my own way then; perhaps I’m more alert for opportunities I might otherwise have missed; perhaps other people sense my belief and are willing to take a chance on me. Whatever it is, I know it will happen, in some form or another, when I believe it will happen.

The final benefit to giving up on this idea of excitement is that I am happier. The excitement was trying to make me happy, but it couldn’t because, of course, fear never can. We talk about a rush as if we have finally tapped into that delicious current of happiness available only in extremes. Yet this is a very limited view of life. The current is always available, it never ceases, it never hides, it never disguises itself. It is there in stillness and in speed; it is there in isolation and in crowds. If you must be excited about something, be excited every morning for the new day.

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