It’s the moving boxes that have never gotten unpacked. It’s the cracked windshield that you keep meaning to replace. It’s the blog post that doesn’t get written…and gets harder to start with each passing day.
It’s inertia, “the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest.” And that physical object, oftentimes, is me.
The worst part about inertia, in my experience, is that the more time that passes without change, the guiltier I feel. The inertia gets even stronger, and I know that when I finally just do the thing that I’m putting off, the little surge of relief and pride I get for finally crossing it off my list will be overshadowed by deep self-loathing for not just doing it when I was supposed to. Now who would sign up for that?
It’s helpful when there are outside forces that push inert objects into motion. In our last apartment, Darren and I couldn’t let dirty dishes sit in the sink very long because we had a total of three spoons and three bowls to our names (you can guess that it was a bachelor pad before I moved in). If we didn’t wash them, we’d have to resort to pouring our morning milk and cereal directly into our mouths. Even worse, there are cockroaches in the South that invade even the cleanest of homes, and it’s unwise to tempt fate.
Loved ones and coworkers are also good for nudging, or shoving, you through the inertia. Reminders and deadlines help. So does the exasperation of a partner. I’ve gotten so fed up with a couple of Darren’s old boxes that I’ve just dumped their contents on the living room floor. He has to help me sort through them if he wants to rescue items like his beloved Daredevil action figure from the giveaway pile. (Darren just said to me, “We did save that, right?” Yep, you did!)
For me, the thing that builds the most inertia is this very project, Reschool Yourself. It’s been nearly six months since my last post, and it’s been two and a half years since I finished the RSY experience. The book has been knocking around the inside of my head since then. To gear up for writing it, I’ve read other project-based memoirs like Julie and Julia for inspiration; I’ve gone to creative nonfiction workshops; I’ve written a proposal and bits and pieces of narrative; I’ve made contact with a few great literary agents.
So now it’s time to stop preparing to write the thing and just do it already. I hope it’s published. But even if it’s not, it will free up a lot of bandwidth that’s currently tied up in thinking and fretting and feeling guilty about it. Best of all, once the book is done, whether the big publishing houses love it or not, I can share it with people who have said that they could really use it. One told me, “This book needs to be in the world,” which was just the kind of loving nudge that I needed.
So here’s to blowing the dust off old projects and breathing new life into them. With each breath comes another step forward.