Sunday, November 24, 2013

This is the story of a happy marriage

At the moment I am reading the rather wonderfully titled ‘This is the story of a happy marriage’ by Ann Patchett.  It is actually a collection of Ann’s nonfiction; articles that have appeared in various (mostly American) magazines and journals over the years.

One anecdote has really caught my imagination and it is told in the essay entitled ‘The Getaway Car’.  This chapter, incidentally, is the best description of the process of writing that I have ever read.  

Ann had been putting off having the air conditioning fixed in her car whilst trying to make it as a writer.  She has no money and is relying on fellowships and waitressing jobs to earn enough so that she can put her energies in to writing.  

Aged 27 she receives her first book deal for $45,000.  All she can think to spend it on is having the air conditioning fixed in her car which has been out for two years by this point.  When she goes to the mechanic, he tells her that the a/c was low on coolant - ‘a problem that was resolved for fifteen bucks’.

I love this story and it clearly resonates still with her (she is publishing this latest book aged 49 and comments ‘that’s the detail of selling my first book I always remember’).  

It got me thinking about how often we put things off because we think they are going to be hard.  My own recent examples are

-putting off going to a yoga class at a new studio for weeks because I didn’t think I’d be able to do the class post 2 pregnancies.  (I finally went last week and loved it.  It was challenging but exhilarating.)

-in a similar situation to Ann, I had put off getting my push bike fixed.  For some reason I’d got it into my head they would write it off.  (Actually it had a slow puncture that cost £12 to fix).

-not wanting to move house with an 18 month old and a 2 month old because it would be too hard.  (You’re probably laughing that I had a fair point.  And it was bloody hard!!! But our new house is so much better for our family than the old one - it’s bigger and not on a dangerous canal for a start.  We worked out how to make the move as easy as possible on all of us, getting as much help as possible (some of it paid for) and I now think it’s the best decision we made all year).

What are you putting off because of a myth you’ve told yourself in your head?  What’s the truth?  Can you uncover the truth without jumping in to some kind of action?  I can’t guarantee everything will be easier than anticipated, but at least you’ll be working with the truth and be able to plan accordingly.  

Don’t let the myths you tell yourself in your head stop you from doing something that matters.