The wrapping up of summer and the gentle shift into fall and back to school is always a time of fresh starts and new dreams for me. I love the idea of all the possibility held within freshly sharpened pencils. August is such a perfect time for recharge, refocus, and inspiration for me.
If you didn’t get things right in January, or lost your new year’s resolution focus by February, August is like a surprise mulligan that sneaks in so you can head into the last quarter of the year on the right track.
In the light of the opportunities held in fall fresh starts, I’ve been thinking more about my writing. I keep wondering what it can be, and what it will take to get it there. I definitely understand the cliché that says you can’t get there if you don’t know where you’re going. (Isn’t there a cliché about that? I’m sure there is. Something about a road map or journey or something?) Since I have no idea what my goal is, I have no next steps planned. I’m not even certain what a good goal should be. Sometimes I wonder if there is any point at all in writing, since bookstores and libraries and blog sites are already filled to the brim with written work of millions of people. But then I hear a new song on the radio and realize that while radio and Spotify and iTunes are already filled with music, there is still room for more.
I really like to live within the zone of proximal development. If you’re not familiar with this educational term, it is the difference between what a learner can do with help and what he or she can do without help. Picture it like a sliding scale – with the idea being that what you can do with help should soon be what you can do without help, which means you can do new things with help as you develop. Which also means that you work on realistic items. A child learning numbers can count up on their own and can do addition with help, but long division is not in the realist realm of possibility at this point. But as I think more about setting goals within this realistic realm of possibility, I have to wonder if those goals are enough? I have to wonder if God-sized goals and dreams do not reside in the zone of proximal development, but rather stretch beyond the edges of the realistic realm of possibility.
I have been reading “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, a book in which he talks about how we think without thinking. He spends quite a bit of time in the first few chapters explaining how we are strongly affected by the vibes we receive. For instance, watch a sitcom where the happily married couple laugh and joke with each other and you are likely to walk away and engage in light banter with your own spouse. Binge watch SVU and you’re likely to become suspect of the stranger who smiles at your daughter. You don’t consciously connect your own life to the TV you’ve watched, but your subconscious is aware and bends in that direction. In light of this book, I wonder if my calling is just to put good into the world through my writing. Rather it be through lighthearted blogs or witty Facebook posts, I have this God given ability to write things that make people smile. What if that is it? I know from Malcolm’s book that putting positive vibes out into the world does impact lives. While it feels small, and feels within my zone of proximal development, it also feels purposeful and God breathed. But does a God-sized goal ever include the word ‘just’? I doubt it.