Krissie is absolutely right: She has her Bad Wolf so tamed that it’s a non-issue for her. Me, not so much. The power has been strong in my Bad Wolf for weeks now, drowning out my Good Wolf. She’s trying to claw her way back to the surface, but it’s hard because the Bad Wolf is getting so much power from the outside world which is kicking my butt regularly at this point. The thing is, she’ll never make it on her own, so I’ve got to get myself out of the darkness, grab her by the scruff of the neck, and get her back into open air. I’m not there yet, but I realized three things that are going to help.
One came from Mollie. She suggested I make a list of three things I’m going to accomplish every day, and when those three things are done, I’m done. I can keep working if I want, but if I prioritize three things, I’ll get those done instead of getting 1/16th of forty tasks done. It’s a good idea, but when I tried to apply it, I realized that if I only did three things a day, I’d be finishing my To Do list sometime around 2017. And it wouldn’t be finished because forty other things would have cropped up. So I’ve been trying to do the impossible and punishing myself with guilt because I can’t do it. No wonder my Bad Wolf is over there burping.
The second one came from Life on Mars, courtesy of John Simm. Trying to explain this without spoilers means it’s going to be vague, but this is a guy who spends sixteen episodes trying desperately to get back to where he belongs only to find out that’s not where he belongs, that the Very Bad Thing that happened to him at the beginning of his story is a transformative kind of freedom, a freedom he’s about to lose by achieving his goal. So he throws it all away, and the look of sheer joyous relief on his face at the end took my breath away, and I thought, I want to do THAT. Not literally what he did, don’t start freaking in the comments, but I need to not just accept that everything’s changed but embrace it. I cannot reconstruct what I had and keep what I’ve got now; it’s impossible, and more than that it’s destructive.
The third one was just a quiet realization: the Bad Wolf gets fed by the externals in my life and the Good Wolf gets fed by the internals. If I’m not worrying about money or the house or McDaniel or a thousand other things, if I can peel my mind off the ceiling and then pat it until it stops hyperventilating, I’m a very happy person. I like who I am, I like thinking about things I’ve seen or read and writing about them, I like making things. It’s not practical to just do what I want, the real world isn’t just present, it’s necessary, but I need to stop being driven by the real world, restrict my Bad Wolf from gorging on it, give it three things each day and then give the rest to myself so my Good Wolf can start putting some weight back on.
And that means simplify. I have to choose between my writing and teaching others to write, so this is my last year doing the McDaniel program, even though I love teaching it. I get the house into livable condition and then stop; I can do fancy painting and get everything perfect later. I clear out the stuff on the outside of the house and stop; I can worry about making it pretty another time. And I write for fun again. The key is to strip my life down to the basics so that there’s room for the stuff that feeds my soul which will also feed the Good Wolf. That’s going to be really hard–I love teaching at McDaniel and I keep thinking there must be a way–but it’s also really necessary.
Three things. If I do those three things, I’ll be letting people down and my house will still be in squalor and it’ll all be my fault. But if I don’t, the Bad Wolf wins and I’ll end up in the darkness with the Good Wolf whimpering from the cold. So.
Make a list of three things to do each day, leap into a new life, hold onto the things that feed my mind and soul. Three things.
I can do that.