I don’t know about you, but I have done some amazing things in my life.
Now to be fair, most of these brilliant accomplishments and experiences have never actually left the confines of my mind. Quite a few were grand solutions posited in random conversations (some might even call them “rants”). Others were insightful and meaningful criticisms lofted from the safety of a Facebook comment or tweet. Some were glorious adventures acted out solely through internet research. Still others were “made real” through this blog back when, it would seem, my irony detector was set on “simmer”.
It also turns out that I’m surprisingly good at making (and mulling over) lists. You know, options I’m exploring. Ideas I’m studying. Things I’ll get around to some day. The myriad changes I want to see in the world. Most never make it off the page or out of my head.
It might be genetic.
One of my most vivid memories comes from November of 2003 when I remember sitting in a chair next to my father’s hospital bed. His speech was more than a little bit muddled from the morphine drip in his arm, but he carefully and slowly shared a robust list of things he had always meant to do and places he had hoped to visit. It was an inspiring, thoughtful and heartfelt list. Alas, he never made it out of that bed again. He died later that week.
Too often, it would seem, the disconnect between where our hearts point us and what our actions actually turn out to be can be vast.
We tell ourselves there will be a better time.
We think we can win the game from the safety of the stands.
We say we are afraid of dying but then it occurs to us that perhaps we’ve never truly lived.
We say we’ll begin where we’re ready, whatever the hell that means.
In addition to being a great screenwriter and author of both fiction and non-fiction, Steven Pressfield is a leading voice on the creative process. In his brilliant The War of Art—and his follow-up Do the Work—Steve takes on the struggles we all face in fighting through our fear and in battling the dragon that keeps us stuck between our desires, our destiny and living out our heartfelt selves. He’s written a lot of great stuff, but I really like this:
If you wanna get strong, go to the gym.
If you wanna get fast, go to the track…
…the point is: where the body goes, the spirit follows.
Therefore, move thy butt.
Put your ass where your heart wants to be.
If you want to paint, don’t agonize, don’t iconize, don’t self-hypnotize.
Shut up and get into the studio.
Once your physical envelope is standing before the easel, your heart and mind will follow.