I realize after typing the title of this post how that might sound. But I’m standing by it – not just because the middle schooler in me is going “heh. She said ‘doing it'”, but because I feel like several other writers, artists, or otherwise self-employed creatives out there will have a lot of resonance with this.

When do you know you’re “doing it”?

The “doing it” here can mean any number of things: Being a badass author, living out your dream of being an actor, making a name for yourself as an artist.

No matter your creative expression, I find that there is some imaginary line between “not doing it” and “doing it.” Between “still struggling,” and “made it.” And between “not good enough,” and “enough.”

What I’m asking, I suppose, is when do we know we’ve really done enough?

I’m putting this out there, not just because I see it in my own life over and over. But because I see it in so many artist’s lives over and over. I have a friend who is a visual artist, musician, and general Renaissance man. To those of us on the outside, it seems like he’s “doing it.” He’s booked at gigs all over the world; his art is visionary; he seems to live an exciting and creatively-fueled life.

But recently I learned that this seemingly-successful fellow does not see himself in this way at all.

Another friend is an actress – someone I admire and would actually like to get to know better. But the thing is, the woman is always busy. She seems to be booking shows left and right, teaching classes, doing standup. In my mind, she is making waves and kicking ass at what she loves.

But I wonder if she sees it that way. I wonder if she knows that to those of us on the outside, she’s nailing this whole acting career thing.

And then there’s me. For the past eight years or so, I’ve categorized myself on the side of “not doing it.” On the side of “still struggling,” “still working at it,” and “not where I want to be” in my writing career. In my mind, it’s less of a gradient and more like two sides divided by a line. I’m either “there,” or “not there.” And until I’m there, that must mean I’m not there, right?

But what if it isn’t so simple? What if there are not two sides at all, and no gradient, and nothing but:

Here.

Here is where we all are, in this moment. It’s all we’ve got. It’s the place where our stories slip from our lips, telling half-truths to anyone who will listen. In this way we create our own realities: coffins confining us, or open spaces to explore.

So what if, artists and creators, we merely choose to tell a different story – from here?

What if we forget about judging ourselves, just for a moment, for not being where we want to be just yet? For not making the impact we’ve hoped to?

For not “doing it”?

Because if you start from here, just here, you might notice that you’re doing a lot more than you thought. Give yourself some credit.

And maybe, just maybe, start to listen when people tell you what a great job you’re doing. Let it sink in.

You may be making more of an impact than you think.

There comes a point where you move beyond jet-lag, into straight up nocturnal living.

Guys – I am at that point.

As I write this, it’s 4:45 in the morning. Honestly, I have woken up at this hour more often than I’ve stayed up this late. But I figured, since I am wired and awake, and somewhat delirious, what better to do than write a new blog post?

(Did I mention I’m somewhat delirious?)

A few days ago, I got home from a trip to China. My partner and I went to Shanghai for the Buddhism and New Technology Conference where we were both presenting. Now, you can probably garner just by writing, that I am not much for the typical “conference presentation.” I don’t care to memorize lines, I don’t “do” bullet points, and PowerPoints are just not my thing.

So I decided to shake things up a bit, and make my little segment somewhat interactive. I said a few words of introduction, and then had the attendees, stand up (some of whom had literally been asleep, and had to be roused) and introduce themselves to those around them. Meet their fellow conference goers. You know, mingle. We then played a walloping good fun improv warm up game, and then a partnered game to dive a bit deeper into connection.

Here’s the twist: at least half of the audience were Chinese and A) didn’t speak English fluently, or at all, and B) come from a totally different cultural background.

A friend who stood in the back of the auditorium said “As soon as you said ‘hey everyone, let’s connect,’ I thought you were in trouble.” Because, let’s face it, some blonde, clearly-American-hippy-dippy-chic with a weird sense of humor tells you to stand up, and connect with strangers, in China, this is pretty out of the norm.

But as my friend watched, and after the first game (which is utterly ridiculous and involves a lot of movement and silly noise making), he watched the cultural barriers dissolve; he watched everyone loosen up.

And lo and behold – we were connecting!

Of course, immediately after my little 20 minutes was over, the crowd went back into “Conference Mode” and studiously resumed their seats and positions. But for that short time, we weren’t a room of separate, isolated little parts; we were cohesive. And we weren’t a room divided by race, sex, or religion; but were connected by the simple act of playing.

That’s why I love what I do so much – my work, my writing – is really just playing. It’s exploring whimsical worlds and (hopefully!) touching people’s hearts through laughter, lightness, and universal truths, best left expressed through story.

Play, to me, is one of the most connecting forces in the universe, no matter how old you are or where you’re from. We can all speak this language.

Now here’s the part where I’d love to wrap this thing up with a neat little platitude, like “People are our most important asset” or “Takes money to make money” (not sure how that second one fits in here. IT IS 5 AM.) But instead, I’ll leave you with this:

How can you invite more play into your life? What might that do for your connections with others? With yourself?

After all (and here’s that platitude): Life is too important to be taken seriously.*

*Oscar Wilde wrote this, likely not at 5(:15 now!) in the morning.