I’ve got that feeling.
My stomach is in knots. My head keeps spinning. Running scenarios through my mind. But most of all, I’m anxious and a bit scared.
I’m about to become Dad again to Baby #3 in our house. It’s a wonderful feeling, but it’s also the kind of feeling that leaves you all jumbled up inside. I’m constantly making sure that everything is ready at the house, that all the projects are complete, that I’m set up at school, and that I can provide for this new baby.
Waiting on the edge of something great isn’t just a feeling, it’s a life-changer. You realize there is no going back, and that’s what is so scary. There will be something great, but it will also be new.
It’s funny how we love “new” things that don’t impact our lives that much. I’m the first one to say “check out this new app” or you’ve got to read this “new book”. I’m also the first one to say that we need to change and start doing new things in new ways.
But this type of new is different, because this is something great. It’s big and wonderful and scary and life-changing.
It’s made me think about all the other times I’ve had this feeling of being on the edge of something great.
It’s also made me think that I need to spend more time working towards having this feeling in my writing, my teaching, and my creating.
I recently watched a documentary on J.K. Rowling (one of my favorite writers). She had this feeling. And it held her back for quite some time. Then all of a sudden it clicked in a rush of thoughts…she was on the edge of something great:
“It was 1990. My then boyfriend and I had decided to move up to Manchester together. After a weekend’s flat-hunting, I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head.
I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one…
I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.
Perhaps, if I had slowed down the ideas to capture them on paper, I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen). I began to write ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book.”
Then there are those people like John Hunter (one of my favorite teachers) who created the “World Peace Game” for his fourth-graders and had to know he was on the edge of something great….
Sure, I guess there are times when people “fall” into something great. But often it is a culmination of many ideas, of years of work, of taking the right chances and learning from the right failures…that leads to a great book, a great teaching moment, or a great innovation.
Today I sit on the edge of something great in my life. A new child. A true blessing for me and my family. But I’m going to challenge myself (and all of you reading) to find this feeling in your life and in your work.
We are constantly faced with obstacles that get in the way of doing what we were meant to do. But they are there for a reason. I’ll leave you with this final quote from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!”
Update: Mason Kennedy Juliani was born and Mom and baby are doing well!