On those days when words refuse to come, when you stare at the sheet of paper or the computer screen waiting for an idea, for the briefest glimpse of a path to follow, it can feel like you’re waiting in a still sea for a wave that will never emerge from the deep.
You can lay on your belly at the edge of the water and kick your legs to create the illusion of a wave, or you can wade in belly-deep and reach your arms into the water and pretend to be riding a wave, but you know you’re simply waiting.
There is no wave, and you aren’t going anywhere.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I stared out to sea all morning in search of the slightest swell.
At my desk I tried to build momentum by looking through old projects, hoping to catch a spark of enthusiasm to carry me forward, but found only sand and fog.
I wandered through the house, seeking I don’t know what, trying to shake the fog from my head, trying to see something new, something that I hadn’t seen before.
In the distance I could hear the faint sound of waves and knew they were there, even if I couldn’t see them.
No matter how much I told myself to be patient, that the waves would come, I remained frustrated, wishing the waves were here and that I could ride one now.
I folded laundry, waiting.
I doodled, waiting.
I searched the cupboard for pretzel rods, peanuts, granola bars (chocolate chip), and scarfed them down, waiting.
Finally, I went for a 15-mile bike ride, hoping the sun and air–the act of movement itself–would stir things up and clear the fog from my head.
The fog followed me the entire ride and settled over me afterward as I sat in the kitchen eating lunch.
But by mid-afternoon, when I returned to my desk, the fog had lifted.
I found a wave and was able to ride it, the first one all day.
It was only after I stopped seeking a wave, worrying about when it might appear, that it came.
Letting go of frustration and expectations seemed to help the fog lift.
And leaving my desk for a while to clear my head.
And keeping my eyes and ears attuned to whatever was around me and inside me, listening closely for the sound of a wave.
Each of us knows the waves are out there, soon to arrive, coming toward us.
Get ready to catch the next one.
Here it comes!
For more on waiting for words, visit: