I find inspiration in art. The art of those who have already successfully achieved their goals and found their creative outlets. This morning on Facebook I saw a link to a collection of photographs by Dutch photographer Niki Feijen (the link is above, located under the photograph). In the photographs, Niki captures a sense of overwhelming loss and sadness, as the images show abandoned rooms, most with their owners possessions still intact.
Whenever I’m at a loss for something to move a story forward I find myself wandering around google. Looking for artists I’ve ever heard of, attempting to find an emotional connection to a photograph or sculpture, a dance video. Occasionally I find it. Today I did. The photographs – the one at the top of this post is one of them – spoke to me. They sang a song of lost joy and haunting memories. The told me of a time when a life of love and light once filled the rooms of that house. When it was a home.
I found myself wondering what the family had been like. Whether the little girl whose doll was left on a chair realised she’d never see it again. When the pram in another photograph was used for the last time. And I found myself wondering why the house was abandoned in the first place. What caused the family to simply walk away one day and never look back.
Since I started work at my new job I’ve let my writing slide. I’ve spent time working, commuting, watching tv. I’ve seen friends and I’ve experienced a triumph I’d long given up on ever experiencing. I paid off a credit card. It’s taken years to do it, and when I got my new job I decided that I would clear the remaining balance in 3 months. I did. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but it is for me a major accomplishment.
I came to realise that my word – to myself – meant absolutely nothing at all. I made over the years, a whole series of promises, commitments, goals. And every one of them lasted about an hour. Even my writing became tangled in the web of broken promises I made to myself. To have achieved a goal, even one as small as paying off a credit card is to show myself that I can make a commitment and stick to it.
I now have another goal, one that is much bigger, but still one that can be achieved. I have another cancelled credit card that contains the final remnants of my past on its smart chipped enable memory. Almost $10,000 of attempts to buy myself a little happy. It’s a much bigger goal, and will take much longer, but like eating the proverbial elephant, all I need to do is take one bite at a time.
Along with the sense of accomplishment of paying off that first card, I’ve come across something else. The understanding on a personal level that every goal is just like the credit card. Be it saving money, moving house, writing a novel or screenplay, every goal has the same underlying structure. Figure it out, break it down into steps and act on it.
I know that’s not earth shattering and most people figure out long before they hit 40, let alone at almost 41, but for me it seems to be undoing a life of believing that goals and success were for other people. Goals and success are for everyone if they take the time to do what they set out to, and refuse to accept the easy way of excuses.
The photographs I saw today inspired in me a new set of goals. Not a story as such, because frankly there are already too many of those at the moment. What they inspired was a desire to ensure my creative outlet was not left abandoned. As I looked at those photographs I was reminded of how my life misses a beat when I’m not writing. It’s like a carousel that spins out of tune to it’s music.
I have always said my goals are too big. That’s a cop-out. My goals are no bigger than anyone else’s. My goals simply require me to turn up and take action. If that’s an hour of placing words on a screen, then that it is. I tend to make the bite size chunks family sized, not one person sized, and I know now that I do that so I have an excuse to stop.
I have a lot of ideas sitting around that need to be finished. I haven’t yet figured out which one I will look to first, but the one thing I am more hopeful of, is that I will figure out a way to turn one of the ideas in my head into words on a screen.
Ideas; goals; credit cards; procrastination; your words sing to me… I believe in serendipity and finding your blog and reading your post have given me the nice kick in the pants I needed today. I have been hiding a first draft for years in the cupboard. Then for the last month I have been intermittently looking at the guidelines for submitting to the Varuna’s publishers competition ( I may actually fulfill their requirements). A day without writing is a missed opportunity to me; so why do I spend so long doing things that don’t matter (yesterday I rearranged the bookshelves…they look great but really!). So today after the kids are fed and taken to school, the husband has headed off to work, the cat has gone hunting outside – I will sit and nut out my Synopsis. I’ll have three fabulous hours to do it before lunch with girlfriends…as you said bite sized chunks AND a life. It is possible that way.
By the way you are just spring a chicken – horrendously I am nearly 47 (shsh don’t tell) and still in hope on FINiSHiNG something…I’m going to look at Niki’s work too I love Dutch artists – and my Dad lives in Holland.
Apologies for such a long note from a stranger…have fun biting off those chunks today…