We start dying the moment we’re born. Some of us meet our inevitable fate sooner than others, but to my knowledge not a single person, genius, king, billionaire, scientist has escaped death’s grasp. This isn’t meant to be depressing, in fact, to me it’s motivating. Sad? Maybe a little dark, but it’s the truth.
At the risk of sounding “new-agey”, I do firmly believe that in each of us, there’s a spark of magic. And, part of our life’s work is figuring out how to share that with as many people as possible. So, corny as it may be when people say, “follow your dreams” I think what they’re really getting at is to find the courage to be your already amazing self.
The quote atop this post is from Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. It’s a book geared towards creative type, but I find its message applicable to all. I frequently alternate between Pressfields "two lives", ever trying to bridge the two. There are things in my life I’d like to do, see, experience, that are yet to be done, my “aspirational self”. Then there’s reality.
But the real magic starts when I begin to rationalize why I haven’t had a chance to do those things. I’m too young. I’m not good-looking enough. I’m not smart enough. These are all just excuses I tell myself. Of course, excuses is another word for fear. And as Pressfield says, “The more scared we are of our work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” In other words, rather than use fear as a crutch, let it be your compass.
When I’m terrified to ask a girl out, that’s when I know I have to do it. When I was scared to move to San Francisco without a job or apartment, I knew somewhere inside that it’s what I needed to do. Don’t mute the aspirational you. That’s what people do when the gap between reality and ideal-self becomes too large. Then we wonder why we wake up at 50 in a midlife crisis wondering what happened to our plans to backpack through Southeast Asia.
One life is enough for me. To pursue dreams is to turn your eye on reality. Why not wake up now and allow fear and excuses to be your guide?