One of the things about adventure is that while the action, when described, sounds exciting, a lot of the time there’s pretty much nothing going on at all.
Joan of Arc waited around for a year for Robert de Baudricourt, governor of Vaucouleurs, to give her the men-at-arms she was commanded to wait for before presenting herself to the Dauphin, the King – and by any and all standards, hers was a fairly exciting life.
We’re used to our stories being distilled down to their essence – a 22 minute sitcom; a 90 minute movie – that’s the most effective way for us to consider those stories, and integrate their relevance into our lives.
The trouble with that is, we get to thinking that action happens in a continuous stream, one event after another, with no waiting, uncertain, perhaps doubting, in between.
I tend to take my action in the inspired form: I get a clear sense of what is needed, and whether it delights me or fills me with dread, the result is the same – I do it. That’s the easy part. More challenging are those times when the voice inside me, clear as a bell, tells me “there’s nothing to do, do nothing”, or simply goes quiet and I’m left twiddling my thumbs, a menace to myself and others, searching for something to fill the time.
I’m getting better at it. Sometimes, now, I can go easy on myself: stare out the window at the glorious view; listen to music; watch a film. And at other times? Well, let’s just say I’m working on it, masterpiece in progress, hoping the artist, whoever that might be, can repair the chisel damage that happens when I have a go at sculpting life myself.
To generate greatness, significant actions are few and far between – that’s what I’m learning – and the less I keep myself busy, or thinking, or planning, or trying to do it all myself, the clearer the voice inside me, the one that dictates those significant actions, becomes.
(By the way, for inspiration, I recommend Mark Twain’s biography of Joan of Arc – he spent 14 years researching and writing it, and considered it his best work)