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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Be Mused : Before It All Comes Crashing Down

Be Mused

Before It All Comes Crashing Down

Plate SpinnerDear Muse,

What do you do when there are a million things pulling you in different directions? I desire to embark on so many creative ventures, but don't know which one is best for me . . . I love them all! And every time I try to make a commitment I always end up doubting myself and wondering if maybe I chose the wrong thing. HELP!! — Going Insane

Insane, your letter reminded me of those plate-spinning acts on old-time TV variety shows. Listen for the tinny music, squint hard and you can imagine black and white audiences gasping as performers deftly spin multitudes of plates atop the slenderest of sticks.

One such plate spinner, Wolfgang Bartschelly, set several plates spinning and still had time to get to his piano to bang out a tune. John Maskelyne was another prominent multi-tasker. Not only a celebrated plate spinner, Maskelyne was an illusionist, magician, and the inventor of the coin-operated public toilet lock. Although these guys deftly handled being pulled in many directions with grace, it appears that, in a similar situation, you might find yourself knee-deep in ceramic shards.

I do understand your dilemma. How can you concentrate on just one? Let's say you did manage to select one figurative plate to spin perfectly while all the others came crashing down. I know you. You'd be casting furtive glances at all the broken plate piles wondering what if. What if? . . . Would I have been more satisfied if I had concentrated on that plate over there? Or this one behind me? Or, oh, no . . . that one! I doubt it. Of course you'll never know for sure. One thing I do know: something's got to give here or shoestrings and ballpoint pens will be just a memory for you in your padded cell.

Well, the good news is that you have plenty of ideas, and, if you really do love them all then how can you possibly choose "the wrong thing"? What would make one creative venture "better" for you than another? What's really at issue here is the motivation behind your endeavors, and you must honestly assess this. Would pursuing the "right" project net you public acclaim, a vast fortune, even fame? (Though, I'm hoping for your sake that your impetus is much more internal than all that.) Establish your goals and then choose a little something accordingly. No one ever said your choice had to be permanent either. As your motivations change over the years so will your creative pursuits.

Still paralyzed with indecision? A little daydreaming works wonders. What did you used to love to do as a kid? Did you dig holes in the back yard? Mix up batches of Kool-Aid? Pet the neighborhood cats? Are any of the creative projects you're considering similar to the activities you used to love? Start there.

Here's another great way to get started. If you won the lottery tomorrow and all your bills were paid, how would you choose to spend your time? To which ideas does your mind naturally return? Would you be compelled to create stained glass windows? Or launch your own record label? Or become a gourmet chef?

No matter what, I imagine you'll always be nagged by uncertainty, but take comfort. Choosing the "wrong" things invariably leads us to the "right" ones. You'll know it when you find it. •

© 2001 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Brackney Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »