“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I’ll show you a failure.” ~ Thomas Edison
“No, it’s not dissatisfaction that inspires me to tinker with my songs, it’s just restlessness.” ~ Andrew Bird
“I believe that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do. ~ Kay Redfield Jamison
I once heard a poet tell of her writing process. She’d be out gardening, or maybe doing housework when suddenly she could feel a poem galloping toward her. To capture the poem, she’d have to stop what she was doing and run to get pen and paper before the poem passed her by. Sometimes she wouldn’t get to the paper fast enough to catch the poem and it would gallop on never to return. At other times she would miss the beginning of the poem, so she’d have to catch the tail and drag it back. In those cases, she’d have to write the poem down backwards. I wish I could remember her name. I’d love to read her poems.
This story stuck with me because that’s how I know change is coming. I can feel it coming long before it arrives at my doorstep. A mild restlessness and dissatisfaction with the way things are going in my life are the first indications that big changes are on their way.
This feeling of restlessness applies to all aspects of my life, even writing. I can feel that there is something I’m supposed to write about, but sometimes the horse has stopped to snack on luscious grass and I feel frustrated that I have to wait until the horse is ready to continue the journey. No amount of coaxing works. I have to wait to be able to grasp the entire idea.
Or sometimes I feel restless, like now, because I’m waiting on others to do their part so I can publish my work. Then, just when I’m about to explode with frustration, something will happen and I’ll read an article with a writing tip that I can use to improve my work, and that sends me to do another round of revisions. That happened to me last week. So, while my husband is creating the cover art for The Space Between Time, I’m making minor changes to my manuscript.
The thing about restlessness is that it’s not random. When it sneaks in to my life, it’s telling me something important. It appears when I’ve gotten too comfortable and am about to stagnate, which is never a good thing for any of us. We’re meant to grow and evolve and we can’t do that if we cling to our routines and never venture to try anything new.
Maybe our trip to Portland intensified my current restless feelings. I mean for a couple of years, I’ve been examining my belief systems and attitudes, and working to open myself to new ways of thinking and being. Just these past few months, I’ve decided it’s time for some new experiences. But when we went back to a place we had lived for fifteen years, after being away for nearly twenty-one years, I saw how much the city had changed. I didn’t fit there any longer and that shook something loose in me. I think it shook something loose in Barry too because it feels like our horizons have been expanded.
I’m not quite sure how all these feelings will manifest yet, but I know that for the first time, my dreams for the future are far larger than I’ve ever dared hope for and I’m excited for what comes next.
By the way, I hope to reveal the cover art for my novel soon. The restlessness is fading. I don’t think I’ll have to wait long for the changes that have been germinating to appear.
If you’re feeling restless, take that as a sign that better things are on their way and look for new and exciting things to be presented to you.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017
6 thoughts on “The Gifts of Restlessness”
I love this, Lucinda. This restlessness plagues me, as well, and like you I take it as a sign that my brain and heart are working hard to answer a calling that hasn’t yet come to light.
Can’t wait to see that cover! xoxo Julie
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Julie, Thanks. Maybe restlessness is just part of being creative. I’m excited to see the cover art too. I think Barry might have it done in a week or two.
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Lucinda, the poet is Ruth Stone.
Linda, Thanks so much. I’ve wanted to know her name for quite a while now. I’ll go look her up.
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I saw her on Oprah’s super soul sunday a long while back. I was intrigued by her process of poetry writing. Some of her poems are a little dark, but having lost family members I can understand why.
Oh, yes. That must be where I saw her too. I remembered the story not her name. Thanks.