Thursday, September 8, 2016

Am I Doing Enough? Shut Up!

There is this dreadful voice that bangs at my head constantly. Not sure where it originally arose, but it sure has been persistent over the years. And yes, I mean years. It's been around as long as I can remember, even as a kid. The voice is bothersome, cruel, incessant and rushed.

The voice says: "You are not doing enough."

I read this as I am not doing enough work, enough writing, enough creative endeavors, enough anything. It doesn't exactly tell me what it is I should be doing, but the voice is very clear that whatever it is I am doing and whatever it is I have done just does not cut it. It is not enough.

This has me believing that somehow I am not enough. If I haven't done enough, perhaps that means that I too am not enough, as in "smart enough," "talented enough," "rich enough," and the all-time favorite on the hit parade "good enough,"

I wonder if others can relate to this. Does anyone else have a voice that pushes them on and on, relentless, no matter how much has been accomplished? I have in fact accomplished a lot in my life, as I review my resume of eight books, 25 plays, hundreds of articles, tons of poems and 70-plus video productions. But even though I have written and produced so much, somehow it isn't enough ... apparently.

Reminds me of that John Mellencamp song "Void in My Heart."

There's a void in my heart I can't seem to fill
I do charity work when I believe in the cause
But in my soul it bothers me still
Hey, Lord, well, you made me like I am
Can you heal this restlessness?
Will there be a void in my heart
When they carry me out to rest?

Where is the rest for the creative spirit? Would we stop writing and creating if we had that sense of satisfaction? Is there a good reason we can't seem to find that peace of mind with the amount of work that has been produced? Perhaps it's our soul destiny to continue chasing that happiness and contentment, like a carrot on a stick, like the rabbit out in front of the greyhounds.

Now, I must admit there have been a few moments of creative satisfaction. The moments after a gigantic play production or a huge video release. I even give myself the next day off, where I can sit back a bit, sleep in, and rest in the knowing I've accomplished something. But only one day later there is that voice: "You haven't done enough."

Shut up!!!

And ... so I rise again and get back to work, with the devil nipping at my heels. I guess I can take solace in another set of lyrics. These were recited to me back in 1990 by a friend who saw some of my anxiety. She was trying to help me release some of that self-imposed pressure when she played this song for me.

John Hiatt, in the song "Through Your Hands," sings of a different kind of a voice - one of an angel.

And you ask, "What am I not doing?"
She says "Your voice cannot command.
In time, you will move mountains,
And it will come through your hands."

So just maybe I can follow this angelic voice rather than the other rushed one. Do not ask what I am not doing nor put so much attention on all that I haven't done yet.

In time, I can make my mark ... through these hands, through these words. I will stay faithful to them as they arise ... in the moment ... just in the right time.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer who can be found either stressing out or writing, but always at

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