I need to buckle down

Oh, to strike out boldly, sucking in deep dedicated draughts of knowledge and digesting rapidly and energetically, then turning and placing with both hands, as far out into the world as I can reach, my own craft of words and thinking. This is my goal, this my desire: to light a fire in my own belly that will know no quenching, to burn with ideas, to labor long and fiercely into the night and before the sun rises, to be a scholar who admits no distraction until his work is done. I want to punch myself in the face so hard I cry for a week at the ache of it, to slam my fist against weak flesh and bone and wake me up to the plowman’s labor I need to have set my hand to years ago.

What? Yes, I want to be a writer, and I have many avenues of that craft that I want to chase my words down, herding them like rabid pregnant cats, corralling them into the shape of stories, histories, insights, and truth. We know how dearly I still want to tell my seminary stories, the stories of my journey of faith and religion, and nothing would bring me more satisfaction than to see that project consummated, perfected, and chasing around in search of a profitable avenue of publication. That day will come.

The now of my writing, however, is the now of my career — my vocation — in canon law. I have not emerged as a stunning scholar in this my chosen profession as of yet, and I recognize certain significant limitations that will probably continue to bar me from the highest flights of my field. But that does not mean that I have no contribution to make, and if I can amend even one of those innumerate limitations — my failure to apply myself to my work — then I know that there is a depth to my God-given skills and talents that will tear a whole in the veil of obscurity my habitual indolence has drawn over my academic years. No more of this. It is way past time to put to proof my assertion that I have been worth educating. It is time to emerge from the shadows where I have been lazing and throw my monogrammed hat into the scholarly ring. It is time to read hard and heavy, and to pen some journal articles, like a boss.

And the hardest part is going to be, without any doubt, shutting out the cycle of distraction I have burrowed my metaphorical ass into over these past several years. Yes, I mean Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Goodreads, and Tumblr, and all the many, many distractions that the on-line, plugged-in life I have embraced is built around. No, I don’t want to sever myself from any of those tools, for I believe they are tools both valuable and needed. But they are also addictive, and my infatuation with idleness has latched me deep into them, a latch I must break if I am ever to be weaned from the Mobius loop teat of social media to the harsh but healthful rations of disciplined self-application to my own mental and creative work. (Ridiculous hash of metaphor, I know, but whatever, you get my point.)

I know I can write. I know I can read. I know I can think. I do not know that I I am able to sit down at a keyboard or a writing desk and just read through page after page of sources, comprehend and synthesize their contents, and turn to put my own thoughts in an orderly fashion upon a page. I do not know that I can hold myself to any task, I do not know that I can keep myself focused on anything that doesn’t have a “Like” button attached to it somewhere. But I want to believe that I can do these things, and since I have (for good reason) no more faith left in myself as a productive and dedicated performer of any task, I have no path other than actually doing these things — and then doing them again, and again, and again — of convincing myself and those I love that I can truly carry myself forward into a tomorrow in which I star not as a disappointing lump, but as a vital and driven artist and academician who doesn’t sit in dream of projects he would like to start, maybe someday. I want to start being someone who starts projects, tackles them day after day, and completes them. That is how drastic I want this to be.

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