What Has No Opposite

The focus I need to tell the story I most want to tell is like the balance necessary to walk across a narrow beam. As my attention strays, as I begin to wonder what others will think about it, or what others have thought about what I have written in the past, I experience a discomfort to which I have given many names over the years. I have called it writer’s block, or lack of talent, or hard, or bad luck. Or sometimes I even call it failure. I had come to believe failure is the opposite of success, which is where I have always aimed my writing arrow: the bull’s-eye of success. How good it feels, how successful I feel when I am flowing along, when each sentence feels like its own little bull’s-eye. Success! Success! Success! Why, when all these little successful sentences are strung together there can be but one final destination for their sum: success!

Until I feel the discomfort, which feels like the opposite of comfort, which feels like the opposite of success, which must then be failure. Except let us think again of that balance beam. Balance actually has no opposite. Imbalance and balance are but different expressions of the same desire. There is only balance and that which guides me back to balance. Imbalance is not punishment, it is not failure, it is only information about where my attention is currently directed.

And even if I ignore this information and let my attention wander and wander and wander out in the void of other people’s opinion, all that will happen is that I will fall. Now I am completely balanced on my back. Now, I needn’t concern myself with the fine direction of my attention. Now I can rest. Until I feel myself restless to get back on my feet, and restless for that pleasure that is focusing my attention to maintain my balance, the only means by which I can ever get from here to there.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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