The Chains We Wrap Around Ourselves are Soft, but Lock Tighter Than Any Others

by Ben Carter in

Each morning for the last 30 days I have gotten up at 4 a.m. to write. This has never happened before. I have written all my life, but what I have are notebooks–lots of them–filled up 5%. I fizzle. My interests are too intense and too fleeting.

This time, waking up at 4:00 has been easy. Not easy physically, but easy because I have been excited by the prospect of finally living out my best life. My vision of my best life has always included writing and now so does my daily life.

For the past two decades, I have let my fear of sucking stop me from continuing to try. I have told myself that all of the best sentences have already been written and told myself that, really, there was nothing original or important left to say. (Thanks a lot, Wendell Berry.)

I have convinced myself that if I said what I felt I would disappoint my dad, that I would anger him and alienate him.[1]

I knew, deep down, that writing would jeopardize this elaborate ruse I have perpetrated for the last thirty-three years that I am intelligent, competent, trustworthy. Writing too much would reveal the ugly truth and people would know. They would know finally that I am not smart, that I am, in fact, self-centered, self-righteous, and selfish.

These are the things we tell ourselves. These are the things that whisper in our minds and prevent us from pursing our best lives. The chains we wrap around ourselves are soft, but lock tighter than any others.

No one needs permission to be awesome.

No one needs permission to suck, either. I think I’ve just become okay with the idea of sucking. Or, that the risk of sucking is worth taking because the risk of doing nothing, or resigning myself to something less than the pursuit of my best life is unacceptable. Writing has become for me the inch I refuse to allow my lizard brain[2] to take because if I give it that inch, it will unlock its jaw and devour my soul.

No one needs permission to be awesome. Especially writers. Especially today. So, I’m going to write. I’m going to write because if I don’t, who knows what I’ll do.

  1. Of course, if this were the case, it would have happened long ago. All evidence points to the exact opposite being true: that deciding to mince my words would, in fact, be the act that would disappoint him.


  2. The good stuff starts at minute nine.