“If you wish to be a writer, write.”― Epictetus
You are what you do daily. And that is wonderful news. I didn’t really understand what this meant until today. Let me tell you about it cause I’m sure you don’t really understand it either.
I want to be a lot of things at this point in my life. I have a guitar. I want to learn to play so well and write such marvelous songs, that will make anyone cry. I want to be a writer as well, a good one, I want my writings to be remembered for ages. I just bought a photo camera! I’m really proud of it, to be honest. One of my heroes is Sebastião Salgado, the social photographer that worked photographing several of the worst humanitarian modern crisis. So, I would very much like to move hearts and call people to action with my photography work.
I love reading, and philosophizing with people as well, especially reading. I love mountains and culture, I’ve climbed all of the Mexican highest mountains thousand times by now. I am a mountain guide, reach out if you want to go by the way.
All of these things are meaningful to me. I feel them important, and I want to give them a place in my life, I want to be known because of them, you know? I’m sure that, if you sit down to write a list, and be honest with yourself, you will find a couple of things you’d like to be known for as well.
But until recently, I wasn’t really enjoying them. Sitting down to write felt like a massive struggle. And just so with everything else, playing the guitar, going to the mountain, reading a difficult novel.
And I found out why.
You see, we live in a consumer society that is constantly indoctrinating us by telling us that anything and everything can be bought. And when I say anything, I mean ANYTHING. As a man, Scarface tells you that you will get the girl when you get the money and the power. As a girl, Jesus, when you get the purse, the endless stream of beauty products, and so on, you know the drill.
And you don’t notice it, but you begin to see the entirety of life that way. You begin to think that you will be happy and fulfilled when you get the product.
For example, right now, I would be happy once I finished this article, right? Maybe I would be happy when I publish it and begin to get applause on my notification bell, and hell, even the money from the partner’s program, correct?! Money baby!!!!!!
But no. Fulfillment never really comes that way. Don’t get me wrong, applause and money are awesome. I love iPhones and cars as much as the next guy. But man, those things do not bring you fulfillment, ultimately.
And it is counterintuitive, because, once you notice that (after a certain level) stuff and money do not bring you the fulfillment that you are looking for. And then you begin to think: “Well, OK, maybe I need to do meaningful stuff! Right! I will write an article and learn German and you know, work my passions!”
And then you start working on your passions only to find yourself playing the same game of endless pursuit and reward. Which is the reason why I was having trouble myself enjoying the meaningful stuff in my life.
Sitting down to write is fucking hard. All of these thoughts go through my head: “What am I going to write about? I’m so not a good writer yet. Jesus, I hate so much self-help stuff, you should be writing a novel you fucking loser! I seriously lack a sense of structure.” And so on, and so on.
And you know what? All of that is true to some extent. But what is also true, if you noticed, is that I am mad because I don’t have the prize yet. I feel uncomfortable because I am not living up to our indoctrination standards of getting the thing, the stuff, the something. After all, within the indoctrination paradigm, if I could pay to be a great writer, I’d just do it.
How we live our lives
Man, the constant pursuit is a fucked up way to live. It has us tired and unfulfilled. We are constantly running on a hamster wheel without getting anywhere. But, the hamster at least is happy while running, we are miserable.
So what is the way out? What is the true way?
Well, I told you at the beginning of this story all the things that I currently do, remember? Then I told you why I wasn’t really happy with them, and also felt like a loser for not being great at them, remember?
That paradigm, not only doesn’t let me enjoy the activities but is also blocking the way to actually becoming good at them. At the same time, it is leaving me unfulfilled with life because I am never actually living my life man! I’m never getting the thing that I want with that paradigm. Just the race.
So the mindset shift is this one.
If you want to be a writer, write.
To live a meaningful life, you need to live it day by day. It is so dumb to live for a day when you’re great, for a day when you are a great photographer, a great writer, a great anything.
Switch your focus to being. Dedicate time to the stuff that you find meaningful, and having dedicated time to them, you triumph at every single second you spent time doing them. For you already are what you are looking for, you already have the thing, while you’re doing it.
Take this piece of writing for example. It might be shit-writing, but it is writing. And I might be a shitty writer, but hey, today, I am a writer no less.
Doing this, and spending time doing this thing is meaningful to me. Be it shitty or awesome, enough days like this and will eventually be awesome.
But, awesomeness comes second. Sitting down to write, and dedicating time to the meaningful things of my life is what matters because I am living my life today.
Enough days like this, full of activities I find meaningful, and I will be able to die without regrets. Man, even if you were to die today, but you’d still have dedicated time to meaningful stuff, you’d be dying saying, hey, at least I died doing what I knew I wanted to be doing.
Yes, you have to have the end in mind, but you have to be happy about the fact that if you write, you are a writer. If you play the guitar, you are a guitarist. If you live today, you are a complete human being and not a machine in the hungry system of work, consume, work, consume, and never, ever, live.
Slow down, it’s about dedication, not hurrying for finishing to get stuff. The true prize is the opportunity to dedicate time and attention to the things that you find meaningful.
More being than doing. And funny thing is, meaningful stuff always makes other people’s days better.
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