My lifelong goal is to write a novel. Only problem is, I have no idea what to write about. For over a decade I have pondered the possible topics I could choose. With so little certainty and so little time in the daily grind, I never did pick a topic, and I have yet to write even one word of my novel.
I am a wife, mother of two toddlers and an attorney with my own law firm. Pre-pandemic, I was in motion all day. After all, the personal injury game in Detroit is cut-throat. OK, well not like mafia cut-throat, but it’s overly saturated and filled with billboards of one successful attorney after the next (I’m sure you’ve seen them!). So, to compete, I had to network constantly, take cases no one else would, and be overly attentive with clients.
I was tired all the time and felt like no matter what I was doing, I was supposed to be doing something else. Yearning to be home while at work and stressed out I wasn’t working while at home. I was never in the moment, never still. Newton’s first law of motion says objects in motion, stay in motion, unless an external force imposes change.
I am that object, the pandemic is the external force and, oh, what change it imposed.
Before the pandemic, it is as if I was on autopilot. Simply, checking off one to-do list item after the next. I chugged along, rushing my kids around town, cooking, cleaning, working and obligating myself to far too many events with family and friends. I was exhausted. But even so, I don’t regret all the busy days. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to recognize the stillness, or lack thereof.
Since the pandemic, all the hours spent commuting from meetings to gymnastics to dinners suddenly stopped. I soon found myself surrounded by stillness and realized how unfamiliar it felt.
For the first time in my entire life, I was forced to sit still with my thoughts. I realized, not only did the busy days prevent me from hearing my inner voice, but I am pretty sure I was subconsciously blocking it. The feelings of mom guilt and unfulfillment lurked in the stillness, so naturally, I avoided it as much as possible; but when the noise stopped, there they were, waiting for me.
Somehow, regardless of how busy we are, the negative thoughts always make their way through. It’s the positive thoughts that get lost in the busy, bustling noise of daily life. That’s exactly where mine were, lost! But if I sat long enough, I could start to hear the positive side of my inner voice. The one that requires some stillness to sneak through.
The ability to reflect filled me with gratitude. As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” I finally had time to connect the dots. To look back and appreciate all I have done. Now that I could hear it, this unfamiliar voice made it clear I was craving a creative outlet.
Now with the stillness, I have found my way back. I now force myself to be still. To think about what I want instead of just auto piloting my way through life. I have a newfound appreciation for stillness. I think I’ll get started on that novel now.