How Things Get Done

Creating can be a paranoid process. Scratch that; creating is a paranoid process. Unless you aim for something popish, it easily becomes philosophical; and since you're already pulling apart the way things are to scrutinize the cogs, you might as well pull apart other things while you're at it, "What's the point of creating this anyway?" Throw that on top of insecurity, boredom, lack of self-discipline, and knowing lack of self-discipline might destroy what you're trying to create, and it can quickly become a big jumbled mess with a bunch of mismatched gears on the work table. At that point I do what any self-respecting version of myself would do: shove it all in a garbage can and avoid creating for three weeks (or three months). As a result, I'm not sure how I've ended up with certain blog posts or songs (or potential book chapters that have now set idle for several months). Sometimes, in a moment of emotional nausea, I gag up a milieu of whatever I've been digesting recently. While it needs some re-arranging and polishing, it's all part of the same sandwich, run partway through my unique intestines. Other times it's like hacking through a jungle in who knows what direction for God only knows how long until I take one more seemingly meaningless swing into a final fern hiding a clearing by a mountain lake.

Either way the result feels out of my control. I just keep doing this and things happen –sometimes.

This all used to feel chaotic and stressful, until I embraced the process and let it remain mysterious. And that's when I started creating what I would consider my best work.

Now that I think of it, most of what I do in life feels that way. Most days feel like hacking, enjoyable but meandering, just paying the bills and goofing off. Then whatever I've been munching on regurgitates itself and a new job opportunity opens up, or I meet a new group of friends, or because I pretended to listen, someone has a personal universe altering revelation. And I sit there in awe of the whole thing. It feels so sudden and happenstance, and yet happens so often.

There is a literary saying, Deus ex Machina, God in the machine. It's what happens at the end of a Hallmark movie where 35 subplot conflicts are neatly and suddenly tied up in a moment. That's not what I'm talking about. It's not as if life progresses from one perfect resolution to another, but rather little miracles emerge in the middle of conflict or monotony.

I am admittedly slow to attribute any specific instance to our heavenly Papa. I've heard the spiel about blessings this or curses that–the, "God gave/did this" sort of thing. It gets tiring and obviously silly when that blessing of a big house or a new significant other becomes a complete nightmare. Not that I think of God like George Washington did, as a distant and on rare occasion directly involved "Providence." But I think there is a certain level of superstition and religious pressure to hear and see clearly, and so we attribute specifics with the confidence of a weatherman.

But I do think God is quite involved, and keenly interested in making things happen whether I know specifically what is Him or happenstance, or whether or not there is such a thing as happenstance at all. I doubt the maker of all things needs me to understand the details in order to get done what He wants to. Which is good, because I'm terrible with details. So I did what any self-respecting version of me should have done a long time ago, I stopped guessing how it all comes together.

My job is to show up, keep my eyes open, trust, and forget about coming up with results.

Which is a much more peaceful and, I would argue, productive process.