Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is a book I  turn to time and time again when I’m in need of some sage advice to push me forward in my writing (which is quite often!)   In the chapter on short assignments, she quotes E.L. Doctorow who once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night.  You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Now I’m not writing a novel, but I am trying to step into this part of my identity as a writer in the Slice of Life 2015 March challenge.  I’m taking this bit from Anne and  E.L. Doctorow more as life inspiration—but hey, if it serves two purposes, then I’ll take that too.

Those who know me well know that I can climb the worry mountain better than most and fret the whole climb.  I can get to the top and see that it really wasn’t worth it; and no matter how many sayings or reassurances I hear echo in my head along the way, it never seems to help. I always find my way down and until the next climb is ahead of me, I calm down.

Tonight, while taking a run and being aware of the the little (and big) worries creeping in and out of my mind as quickly as the pacing breaths, I saw some headlights approaching down the road.  I thought back to E.L. Doctorow’s words and suddenly begin to feel like this moment, this new mountain of worries that I was preparing to hike, was not worth putting on my hiking boots for.  I only have to focus on what’s in front of me–only as far as I can see at this present time–breathe, and take it on. It will be okay.

Anne elaborates on Doctorow’s words: “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way.  You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.  This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”


7 thoughts on “Headlights

  1. Writing for a month does seem like a huge task, but it is so worth it. I love the quote that you included. I think that quote applies to a lot more in life that just writing. We all need to take things just a day at a time sometimes to get through to the end. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your post. I can definitely relate with the worry mountain–Initially tonight I thought I would slice about what I call the “worry gene” which I’m sure I’ve inherited. I enjoyed reading your thoughts and always love any reference to Anne Lamott!

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  3. Byrd by Byrd is a staple among writers and your piece has given me a kinship by mentioning it. “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you.” isn’t
    that true of life itself? Thank you for making me think a little deeper today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great reflections here. I so get the worry mountain (fits in with making mountains out of molehills)! And the “take a deep breath” or two or three or even TEN! I think we can get farther if we don’t worry so much but JUST get started. Much to ponder here! THANKS!

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  5. Two or three feet ahead, so true. Sometimes I try to surge forward by a mile. The lesson of two or three feet, small steps in the journey, do bit at a time requires me to find friends and colleagues who think differently. Visionaries and strategists. I was thinking just like you yesterday–don’t worry too much and just get started. So true!

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  6. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful slice of life. I can really connect with your feelings here about the worry mountain. The way you end this will stick with me, “you only have to see two or three feet ahead of you.” I will have to keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing such great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

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