It seems like people say things were so much better in the past, which is probably why “the good ‘ol days” are often referenced more than “right now is probably as good as it’s going to get.”
But the truth is that in life, there will be a moment when you’re at your best.
You might not realize that it’s “that time” when it happens because you’re too busy planning out an uncertain future, or maybe everything will seem perfect and you’ll embrace every second of the ride. Maybe it was last year, maybe it will come tomorrow.
Either way, it will eventually end, and probably too soon.
The truth is reaching the apex of whatever it is you’ve set out to achieve—physically or mentally—can’t be maintained forever. Those moments of absolute, unadulterated happiness or physical perfection are awesome when they happen, but if every day was filled with an overabundance of emotion, it would be exhausting.
So we want to hold on to those moments. We take pictures, we blog about them, we store them away in our memory banks and cash them in during times when we fear we might never feel that great again.
Because most often there’s that voice in the back of your mind that wonders if that moment has passed, if you’ve reached a point of greatness that won’t return again.
If you write or you’re an artist, you worry about writer’s block or a drought in creativity. Every gap not filled with satisfactory production can be viewed as the first drop of decline, as a subtle hint that maybe the last thing you wrote will be the last good thing you will ever write again.
Dramatic? Most certainly.
True? Most often.
The reality is that there has to be an eventual letdown—the post-wedding honeymoon bliss before reality, the post-race runner’s high before the “what’s next?” phase. Those are expected. But if you don’t know you’re in the middle of “it,” can you enjoy it as much as you should?
Although it’s not about “fame” but rather about personal bests, I have certainly enjoyed my very small 15 minutes of “pseudo fame” with the book. While there are many times I turn a good thing into stress, for the most part, I’ve let myself enjoy it.
And while I highly doubt that a rose in mid-bloom thinks about whether or not it’s reached it’s finest hour or stresses over the dropping of each petal, I’m most certainly not a rose. I can’t help but hear that clock ticking in the background as the seconds of my 15 minutes dwindle down.
I’m left wondering if this is all there is, if I will ever sell another copy, if I’m stuck doing what I’m stuck doing right now forever. I want something “else” to happen, but what? How?
I don’t know.
All I do know is that some people peak early. Some people peak late. There are fantastic debuts and remarkable comebacks. But whether you’re famous, an athlete, a waitress or a humble writer such as myself, you’re only at the top once.
Knowing this—and being aware that you might not know just when that is—can motivate you to keep reaching and working for that feeling again, hopefully taking time to enjoy the ride the whole time. Doubt should not serve as a barrier to creativity or progress.
At least that’s what I’m trying to hear myself say above the ticking of that clock and pounding of self-doubt that I’m trying to mute out.
At any rate, the next post with be lighter, but lately, this was on my mind. And since I’m rambling and there’s no graceful way to end this, I’ll share a wise quote from writer Michael Ames that pretty much sums it up:
“Regardless of where we currently lie in our respective timelines, the choice is the same: you can howl at the moon over the years that have come and gone, you can be a tomato and shrivel up and die, or you can move on, buoyed by the knowledge that your best work lives on without you, and there’s still so much more to do.”
Like the blog? Buy the book.