Returning After a Long Pause The Importance of a Gap Year

After a long pause I return to pick up the thread of my enquiry and continue my journey in Search of Clarity. It is precisely 11 months since my last post and much has happened in the meantime. It appears I have needed that time out to regain a sense of clarity about my initial purpose. Besides, hindsight provides a much better lens to make sense of things, and so I return now with fresh insights and reflections on this process initiated a year ago.

My original intentions for beginning this blog were just to kick start something into motion and to provide an outlet for expression, however uncertain that might be. There was no guarantee of a smooth and regular cycle of progress but that uncertainty was in some way factored into the process.

I started this project at a time when I had good time for reflection, a stable routine and a general pause in the busyness of daily life. It seemed a sensible thing to do at the time and so I committed to publishing one post per week for as long as I could manage. Then after a mere 8 weeks, life got busy again. My mental resources were hijacked by other concerns and so I silently moved this blog to the back burner.

However, I never let the flame go out. It seems the spark that got it going in the first place is a resilient one and that gives me the courage to keep pursuing this line of enquiry.

The last thing I want is for this to become another creative project started, then shelved and neglected. Those kinds of things haunt you and part of the reason I started this in the first place was to deal with some of those creative skeletons in the closet. For me this project is a personal challenge set not only to start something but to see it to some form of completion. Each blog post marks a unit of completion and with it a measure of resolution.

It has proved a difficult path though, one accompanied by incessant doubts and internal tension. Part of my struggle has been with the notion of committing time to something that is purely personal, as opposed to professional or social. Niggling worries about being self-indulgent, neglectful of social duties or unproductive in a financial sense mean I generally de-prioritise this kind of work, and the demands of daily life usually consume the time and energy needed to invest in this process.

The medium of blog writing presents its own challenges and pressures — to be consistent and publish often. In a fast paced and over-crowded environment it’s important to keep a steady stream of content coming. If I cannot commit to keeping a regular schedule of content then that undermines the integrity of the blog.

At first I committed to one post per week, but soon even that became quite challenging and felt out of kilter with my natural flow. I need time to digest and reflect upon my experiences and this artificial measure added an unnecessary pressure that proved counter-productive. When the motivation becomes more about getting something published on time than communicating something that has presented itself naturally, then the work suffers.

If I am to listen to my own internal process I get a sense that I should not push things based on typical criteria. I am not driven by business concerns with this material, my emphasis is on personal exploration, so I can relax my grip and see what comes in a more fluid and less conventional way.

The challenge has been to honour my own creative inclinations while also leaving behind something that others may value too. What is meaningful to me is highly subjective and not necessarily relatable to others’ experience, but perhaps this is where I just have to take a leap of faith and trust in the process. After all, the intention behind developing this process is to bypass the “little me” and try to access a place of deeper wisdom that transcends my petty concerns and limitations.

What I’m learning from all of this, is to relax a bit and allow myself to express in a way that feels natural without trying to control it too much. A long pause was necessary, but so too was a return to pick up the thread. This pattern has become an integral part of my creative journey. It is a period of rest, withdrawal, gestation before a cyclical return with fresh insight.

I cannot seem to work at this material for too long before getting lost, stumbling in my own way and feeling like I’ve screwed up again. That is what generally provokes the leave of absence from writing. I drop it for a while and focus on other things but inevitably some piece of the puzzle presents itself and with renewed vigour I come back to continue what I started in a new way.

I feel like a witness to the process as opposed to instigator. My job is to show up every now and again and weave together another piece of a developing tapestry. I can see the blueprint for the tapestry but if I try to do too much at once I get tangled and have to back off.

It is in these “gaps” that I discover significant experiences and from them many insights have germinated.

In upcoming posts I will attempt to unravel some of those in the hope of filling in a bit of the back story that has inspired this project.

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