Getting off the beach: Fear, Procrastination, and Creativity

“Don’t tell me you’ve been on the beach all this time,” said the albatross.

“Yes, I have,” said the sea-thing child.

“How come?” said the albatross.

“Well, the storm you know,” said the sea-thing child, “and the wind and the waves in the dark, and the ocean being so big and me so small.”

“Small!” said the albatross.  “What isn’t small compared to the ocean!  The blue whale’s the biggest thing that swims, and that’s small in the ocean.  If the ocean wasn’t big it wouldn’t be the ocean.  The whale is whale-size, I’m albatross-size, and you’re sea-thing size.  What more do you want?”  He stood up and brushed the sand off his bottom.

“You’re never afraid?” said the sea-thing child.  “Not afraid of getting lost in the middle of the ocean?  Not afraid of the storms and the dark and the wind howling all around you?”

“There’s no such thing as an afraid albatross,” said the albatross.  “The ocean wouldn’t be the ocean without storms, and the ocean is where I live.  How can you get lost when you’re where you live? I was born on a rock in the middle of the ocean, and Wandering is my name.” He knocked the ash from his pipe and turned into the wind.  “Clear the runway,” he said. “I’m taking off.”  He started his run, flapped his wings hard, and went up into the air. The sea-thing child watched the albatross out of sight. Then he went back to one of the big old seaweed-bearded rocks and sat on it all afternoon, looking out to sea until the sky grew dark. (From The Sea-Thing Child by Russel Hoban)

Sometimes it’s hard to get moving with creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert, in Season 1, Episode 1 of her Magic Lessons Podcast, says “All procrastination is fear. Anything you do that stops you from the work that is gnawing at you, the work that wants to be made through you, the creative project that is begging you to realize it…anything you do that blocks that is fear. It might look like fear, but fear also has a lot of shady disguises. It can show up as perfectionism, insecurity, guilt, procrastination..all of it is something you are too scared to do.”

I am a little bored of being the sea-thing child, just sitting on the beach because I am too afraid to explore the ocean. The ocean that is calling me, begging me to come dance with it, uncover its’ secrets, discover its’ truths. Unlike the sea-thing child, the albatross refuses to be frozen in one spot because of insecurity, worrying he is too small (his voice too insignificant in the sea of creative voices). I want to be like the albatross who adventures courageously at his heart’s content because he understands that this is what he was born to do. This is where he is most alive.

xo Andrea


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