Cover of novel The Complex, by Michael Walters

The most important thing to do is

The most important thing to do is

I went for a walk and the streets were quiet. It’s Halloween and dark outside, but it was too early even for the youngest children to be out. My daughter had friends around for a spooky-themed tea, and now they’ve gone out to ask for treats. The door knocking has begun.

Yesterday a sentence came to mind while I was writing in my notebook. I was in the sweet spot where each sentence starts effortlessly after the one before. I wrote, “The most important thing to do is”, and I expected the final word to be writing, but instead I heard a voice in my head say “disconnect”. It stopped me in my tracks. So I wrote:

The most important thing to do is (disconnect) write.

The idea of disconnecting filled me with relief. It reminded me of something I’d posted on Twitter:

In psychoanalytic psychotherapy you have to accept uncertainty, live with it, and eventually perhaps enjoy it. You also need to access intuition and be willing to follow wherever it leads. It’s pain that becomes joy, if you can stick with it. (Stick with it.)

At the time, it was an encouragement to someone online I had in mind, but it was also a call to action for me. I’ve cobbled together a creative process from my therapy experience, but I often forget to embrace the uncertainty of life, and I pile pressure on myself to finish things. The truth is, I’m afraid I will die before I finish the next story, and the anxiety is paralysing. Or perhaps I think I’ll die when I finish the story. While a story is still being written it is neither good nor bad. Nobody can judge it, it’s out of sight. I’m safe.

There’s another knock at the door, but there’s nobody there, and our empty milk bottles are gone. I had treats, but it looks like somebody chose to play a trick. Or did I forget to put the milk bottles out? And is that laughter in the bushes?

I want to enjoy uncertainty. I want to follow my intuition wherever it leads. I want the pain to become joy. I want to stick with it. I want to disconnect. I want to write.

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