jj at katy

What do you do when you fall short of a goal? How do you Define it? Is it a Divergence? Or a Derailing?

Are you more motivated with humongous, “unrealistic” goals? Or small steps? I am slowly figuring out how I work best. I keep thinking that making big goals and telling everyone so I feel obligated helps me get things done. And it has, but only to a point.

As my eyes have always been bigger than my stomach, I tend to make very, very unrealistic goals. Yes, those big goals push me to produce more than I’d have accomplished without them. But I perpetually feel like a loser, which spirals down into less accomplishment than having no goal would have produced.

As I said in yesterday’s blog, I’m in California until tomorrow. I’ve been here for ten days, wonderfully hosted by two friends who wanted to support and give me space to focus solely on finishing the book. The last couple of days, before bed, I’ve been reading Divergent (can’t put it down, up too late, don’t care…cheers, fellow bookworms).

When I first heard the title, I thought of the usual definition of divergent, that of leaving the accepted path. It’s usually a negative, more like “derailing,” out of one’s control. But in the book Divergent, divergence is born of abundance. It’s too many talents, too much ability.

Right now, old Jene’ would say that because I’m not donedonedone with The Oat Project, as I’d planned, I have derailed on this trip. My big goal was to be done.

But yesterday, I realized that in the last ten days, I’ve finally—FINALLY!—gotten into the habit of facing the words, the page, and largely gotten over facing me from seven years ago, the pain of grief, the discomfort of writing a memoir, the constant self-analysis, the gut honesty it requires. And, I have gotten great work done, moved it forward far more than I could have if I had been home. Friends and strangers, writers and readers, keep reminding me writing always takes longer than planned, that the feeling of accomplishment is in the doing as well as the finishing.

Am I pissed at myself that it’s not done, that I will not be bringing a finished manuscript triumphantly home?


But I can’t stay in that mental place. And that triumph will come, because now, I’m slogging. And I like the slogging. It’s not a derailing. It’s a divergence, but only from an unrealistic goal and in the sense of abundance. I don’t need the gigantic goal any more. I have the divergence of too much. It’s a big, often overwhelming, but deeply rich gift to be writing this. And I’ve diverged onto the only path writing can be, of slogging.

Reconnecting with my old self, literally from over 15 years ago, pre-marriage, kids, divorce, book, move, all of it. But I’m not done with the book. Even with a deeper understanding of Divergence, I’m still asking why I couldn’t finish–besides simply the sheer number of hours it takes.

(if you could see the pause here: breath out, trying not to cry in public, feeling/thinking shitshitshitshit, feeling like a loser, embarrassed, thankful)

Yesterday, it hit me: I have so much more healing to do than I realized. The first week here, I was a block from the ocean but didn’t go over very often. A BLOCK from the OCEAN. WhatthehellwasIthinking!?

I was writing, I told myself. And my grief-sensitized nervous system still gets overwhelmed by tons of people, so the tourists were too much. But then yesterday, I sat on another beach amongst few people, and realized why it had been hard. It was the weight of the sea.

After a while of sitting a few feet from the water, breathing with the waves and being soaked in the complete sensory overwhelm that is the ocean, I wrote the following (And is it hard to share this with you? Yes.):

Dear Mom,
Hi. The irony that I write to you now, when you can no longer read this, is not lost on me. But I shall go ahead, for today.
I’m sitting on a beach, looking out at the Pacific. I thought of you because this is something I would have liked to share with you.
I am afraid. Afraid that if I immerse in the water before me, I don’t know who will emerge.
Will it be me? Am I “me” any more, apart from the sea?
As I lie here on my belly, feeling my back begin to burn, I am close enough to these words to be mesmerized by the movement of ink soaking into the page.
I am afraid of getting in the water.
Will it wash away all the pain? Will it salt my wounds? Will I want to keep walking in, to disappear into the deeps?
That is the fear.
It might be too much.
For the sea is salt water as are tears.
Will I drown? Will I want to drown?
I wish you were here. Love, your daughter

I don’t want to drown. I want swim. I want to cut through the water of the sea like a porpoise. I want to play in this life, in my task of writing The Oat Project. I want to feel light and strong and supple in the water, feeling it as I move across land. I want to diverge more than I derail. And I want to see it that way, instinctively, because I know what moving in the water feels like, because the salt and sand of this place is embedded…as is my mother, as is my grief, as is the brilliance of the sun.

Right now, in just a few minutes, I’m going to go back to that place on the beach. And though I’ve already showered and “gotten ready” for this day, I shall immerse, the disdain of derailing drowned in diverging in the deeps.

Love and hugs. Jene’

p.s. This is my “D” day entry for the A to Z April Blogging Challenge. I’m posting 6 days a week for the entire month of April, one post for every letter of the alphabet! So stay tuned, and check out some of the other 2000+ writers participating.

p.p.s. This message brought to you by my dear friends Mister, and Karen (go like her page and buy her jewelry!) and the dear ladies, ample wifi, lovely double shots, and great food of Katy’s Café.

One thought on “Divergent? Or Derailed?”

  1. This blog is awesome. Reminds me of the saying, “Life is what happens when we are making other plans”. I believe that when we are living a truly authentic life, we are constantly rewarded with more than we could have ever planned or even orchestrated. It is truly a blessing. And I think to be stuck thinking that the plans we had HAVE to be completed, is to forget that magic that is unfolding before us when we live an authentic life. Enjoy the divergence. It is the blessing. 🙂

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