You know how some people have to clean their entire kitchen / office / living room / patio / house / dog house / bird house / neighbor’s house before they will finally just sit down and start doing their creative work?
I’m not one of those people. (Nor do these people ever seem to live next door to me, proving that no good will ever come of this kind of neurosis.)
I can write with a messy kitchen / teetering piles of papers / tipping stacks of half-read books / vases full of but-they’re-so-arty-though dead flowers / unwashed dishes (… you guys can’t actually see me, right?) doing their unkempt thing all around me.
I can write through the Apocalypse. (Done it, actually – see how that turned out here. Spoiler alert.)
I can write even though just this morning I found one of my favorite black leather knee-high boots buried in the laundry bin and the other one under the bed. (“Where the hell are my goddamn shoes” is not the B.S. question, though, hang tight: we’re getting there, I promise.)
I can write even though I forgot to eat breakfast and I’m starving.
As long as there is coffee, I’m good.
Except for one thing.
There is a seedy thing I tend to do that threatens on a regular basis to derail my creative progress. And internally, the seedy mind trick sounds like this:
Who are you to write about a soul calling? What in heaven’s name do you know about the meaning of life?
The meaning of life?
Like: All of it? Me? Maybe you’re right, evil mind gremlins: Who am I to know this.
I mean, even Aristotle and Plato didn’t completely agree on stuff like what the actual meaning of life is or what truly defines The Highest Good or The Living Of The Good Life.
Forget the dirty dishes, man, what about the meaning of life? How am I supposed to tackle that one and still find my killer boots before I’m late for the office? Again?
Of course, this is not just your average mind trick, this is a haute couture B.S. mind trick. This is next level ego ninja trickery. This is how we use the big, impossible questions to avoid doing the very possible (and necessary) soul work that needs to get done now.
Aaaannndd here comes the paralysis disguised as reason:
“I’ll start to do what I love once I nail down for sure if it’s what truly matters in life. According to someone. And everyone. Living and dead and long dead. Once I know I’ve got it right, then I’ll begin.”
So it’s fine: as soon as you go head-to-head with Aristotle – and win – then okay, time to start doing the thing Aristotle says is cool and right and important.
Aristotle lived and died circa 350 B.C. babes. Which makes this the perfect impossible quest.
You need to know the meaning of life before you start to do work that’s meaningful in your life?
Okay, gorgeous, I’ve got you, baby. Let’s fucking do this.
Right now, grab paper and a pen and define the meaning of life as you see it. Right now. You have 20 minutes. Set the timer and let’s go.
Breathe. Write from your soul. Write what you believe (what YOU believe) gives your life (YOUR life) meaning. Just let it all out in your journal or anywhere you can find blank space to call your own. Your soul knows these answers. Let them come forward.
Why are you here? What is it you madly, deeply want to do with this precious, limited time you have here on this earth? What is it that when you do it, moves you in a way you can’t even explain it to anyone else.
What is it that you want to do that you truly love? What feels like finally breathing?
Write the truth. Write what comes without judgment and keep rolling for 20 minutes.
Want to know the secret? The meaning of life is as simple as what is honestly, ruggedly, brutally, deeply meaningful for you right now. None of the rest of it matters. Being “right” doesn’t matter, in fact: it’s irrelevant.
Your life is now. Now is as good a time as any. Now is the only thing you’ve got. Whatever your truth is now, is your truth period.
If defining the meaning of life is what’s holding you back from actually living a life of meaning, then get something down on paper and start to work from there.
Do not wait another minute. Do not wait for the perfect answer.
Do not wait for Aristotle to show up and give you the answers while you guys do the dishes together (for the love, would someone please do these dishes).
You know what’s really going on with big impossible questions, right? It’s fear. It’s an illusion. That’s all. There are only two possible realities to exist within: love or fear. Whatever it is that is keeping you from doing what you love is fear.
If we never answer the tough questions then we never have to live up to what we believe our best answer would be.
So you could ponder and think and research and ask everyone you know and wait until you figure out the answer to The Big Question (whatever The Big Question is that’s holding you back; maybe it’s not the Meaning of Life but trust me, when you make a move toward doing what you love, a Big Question will threaten to hold you back simply because of its Bigness – it’s in there and it’s stopping you from claiming what’s yours. It seems gigantic and menacing and may or may not involve fire-breathing dragons, flying monkeys and / or the idiot-stick-figure-boss-with-no-soul you keep complaining about) OR you could just decide right now what matters to you in your life and get a move on pursuing it.
I know it’s scary, beloved. I know it seems too big.
I know it’s hard to make a move. I’m a thinker, too. I’m contemplative to my core. I could read and pray and ponder all day long. This will be what destroys my creative process or propels it.
Everyday, I have to choose. And it’s not easy but it matters to me.
That’s why this is work. This is tricky. This is beauty. This is love. Doing the work of our soul craft is what we were designed to do if only we would let ourselves do it.
One of the most gruesome mental blocks we conjure up is this false idea that we have to have the big answers – maybe even all the answers – before we begin.
I’m telling you, whatever the question is, you have an answer that will plenty suffice to get you rolling. You don’t have to have THE FINAL answer. You just have to put the answer you already have right now down on paper so that it is put to rest and you can get to the good stuff.
The soul is eternally evolving. The revelations will come and come and come once you jump in the game. The idea is to keep watching, keep tumbling, keep enjoying the dance.
Aristotle believed the highest good we could do was to use our talents and skills to bring about what is known as eudaemonia, or human flourishing. He concluded that happiness as experienced in this way, as a state where this “human flourishing” was self-sustaining and final (ultimate), once you had achieved this, you had everything.
Eudaemonia is an end in itself, you do not seek it as a means to get to anything else. To work toward collective and individual flourishing is its own reward.
You know what I think (as if anyone cares now that I just told you what Aristotle thinks but shut up he’s gone and I’m still here with functioning social media accounts and fierce leather boots)?
I think deep down we are simply concerned with our own unmanifested excellence. The tug in our soul to begin doing what we love is a tug toward that excellence manifested.
On some level, you are already the expression of the Highest Good. Your soul is calling to you from that place,
“We can be this beautiful, angel. Come. Meet me here. You’ll see.”
That’s why we keep trying. We keep going. That’s why we need to do the work our soul calls us to do. Not so we can say we were right, or so that we can prove that we have it all figured out, but so that we can say we are enjoying doing what we came here to do while we are here to try our best at doing it.
Something in us believes it will be worth it. Something in us knows we can.
Something in us knows it doesn’t have to be perfect.
It just has to begin.
P.S. Do you or someone you love want to dig deeper into a subject like philosophy, music, photography, mindfulness, fine art, history, mathematics, or science? Check out The Great Courses. A very beautiful gift for inquiring minds like ours. ;)
P.P.S. I post every Wednesday. And I am so very, deeply grateful you are here. Thank you. x