Blank Sheet Syndrome
Author:Negin M. Khorasani
Editor: Andrew Mech
November 7, 2020
It goes back to my early childhood. As a visual person, I discovered and started to enjoy drawing. I used to draw and paint endlessly and for that I had scrap papers available or A5 size thick drawing spread sheet meant for children. I also had pencils and magic makers to make these drawings more colourful and joyful. However, I always longed for having those A4 size drawing books with white paper that my older sister used to paint on. I was mesmerized by the beauty that could be created on those big white sheets.
Finally, when I was nine, I received one of these drawing books as a gift from my parents. It had a beautiful picture of an elephant in the centre of its silver cover and translucent thin silky sheets were separating white drawing sheets. Its beauty was magical and I was feeling honored to finally have the possibility of drawing in such a high quality drawing book. It was scary though! I was feeling a high level of responsibility about the quality of what I must create on these sheets. I kept it safely in the drawer of my desk and every now and then I would bring it out, open it and stare at it. I also would touch the paper, would turn the translucent silky dividers and would imagine a painting on the very first sheet. However unfortunately I would feel stressed at the very thought of starting to draw on the sheet and would start practicing on scrap papers one after the other. After a few hours my enthusiasm was expressed on scrap papers and the time for drawing was over. I would put the drawing book back into my desk drawer until the next occasion of inspiration.
That drawing book remained inside my desk drawer for many years and went from one desk to the other and was moved from one house to another. Never being used, never being enjoyed as it was meant for. I entered university to study Architecture and a part of the curriculum was focused on drawing and sketching. I used many white sheets for those classes. I learned how to deal with white papers gradually although still with a fair bit of stress and hesitation each time. All the years that followed, I kept that first A4 drawing book as a reminder of a lost opportunity. Finally, a few years ago we had a flood in our basement and sadly the white pure beauty of the drawing book faded into black forever. My heart was crushed with this event not because of losing a drawing book but because of losing the opportunity of using it. I was grieving over this lost opportunity which was a result of my fear.
Many years ago, I started practicing meditation and later was trained in India for teaching it. I started working with people and supporting them to go within and connect with their heart and to explore their inner world. I have dived deep into self-inquiry both in practice and through related literature. I explored philosophy, psychology and mystic literature. I learned that dealing with fears, hesitations and discontentment as well as following our deep longings is an integral part of this inner work. Only through following the thread of our hesitations and facing our fears are we able to embrace a more expanded version of ourselves and move toward our full potential.
I have been contemplating opening a new chapter in my work life for the past number of years however I was postponing making this change and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Finally, in the spring of this year, Shabnam and I founded Be 8nfinite to open this new chapter in our lives and in the lives of others. It seemed like a daunting task. The stress of taking that first step combined with the pressure of actualizing it in the way we had both imagined was almost paralyzing. This fear of the unknown is more complex at this time. There is a new level of uncertainty the world has been facing during these turbulent and transformative times. The pandemic and the seed of chaos it carries for humanity pushes us to change our ways on so many levels as a collective. Now to add more complexity to this equation there has also been our fear of not being able to actualize the perfect image that we would like to create. It can be a paralysis by analysis situation when the perfect image that is imprinted upon our minds can become a hindrance to our actions, as is often the case with perfectionism. Much like opening a new drawing book and putting the very first lines on the blank sheet.
We have started the process of our drawing, we kept sketching, putting our imagination on paper, then adding colours to it and bringing more life into it. We kept polishing it and have been enjoying watching it coming to life. Like any creative process, it has been filled with moments of inspiration, moments of not knowing what to do next, moments of feeling stuck and moments of magic and miracles which have unfolded before us. We are enjoying our creation as we go forward with it. We are amazed at times with the expansion that is happening inside and outside as is the case in any act of bravery. We have been inspired and humbled by the encouragements and enthusiasm we have been showered with by all of you. We believe it will both inspire and force us to change our patterns and to break out of our proverbial boxes into becoming more and more each day.
Now, I am inviting you to look at the areas of your blank sheet syndrome. What are your hesitations and fears? What are you keeping in your desk drawer for an unknown future? What are the things that you secretly keep loving and longing for but don’t dare to act upon them? Beware of storing them for too long. The flood of time may ruin its beauty and freshness forever. Suddenly it may get too late and the opportunity lost forever. Don’t leave it for later. Don’t leave it to chance or the favors of others to create the opportunity for you.
Open your drawing book and start sketching. Start bringing your visions into life. Start enjoying the opportunities you have at your disposal today. The number one opportunity we all are blessed with and yet tend to forget is breathing and the magic of being alive. Realize the miracle of life that is happening with you and to you now. If you have followed these lines and have read up until this point, realize the fact that you are blessed with eyes and vision. Realize that not only do you have a roof over your head, but beyond that you have a home, a computer, the possibility and luxury of connecting with the world through it and to pursue what seems interesting to you. Start realizing all these and being grateful for what you have. If you feel unhappy and dissatisfied with certain areas or some circumstance in your life, know that what you are in essence is far greater than your circumstances whatever they may be. Start realizing and claiming your power. Start living the life you love living.