This is written on my mirror.
Where I can look at it everyday. Where I begin my day.
Where I sometimes have to go and give myself pep talks.
Where I go to check my mascara if I've needed to have a little cry after I feel like I've been knocked down.
What does it mean? Well I'll tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean to do the bad thing anyway. The thing that'll make me feel worse? No. Not that.
It means that despite how low I feel on any given day I will pursue my heart's desire. I will keep "showing up" because that's what makes me feel alive. My passion must be given license to live out loud. It means I'll write, because I love to write, even if no one reads it. It means I'll work out, even if I don't feel like it, because it makes me feel strong and capable. It means kissing my girls and hugging my teenagers on the way out the door, even if they're sad that I'm going, because my clients put my purpose in action.
It means that I won't be cowed or discouraged. I won't allow my feelings to dictate my actions. I won't let criticism distract me. It means I'm going to courageously do the difficult things that reap future reward. It means I'll be my own hero. I'll be brave.
I'll do it anyway.
Because what I do -- writing, reaching for connections with other humans -- its an act of love. But I didn't always understand it as such. I was afraid of saying "I am a writer" because I felt it couldn't be true unless I was successful. But in order to honor it as an act of love I had to change my definition of success.
What does it even mean to be successful?
To me it meant I had to be recognized by others as something. I had to be able to pay my bills with proceeds from that something.
You see, I've often been told that I have a gift for writing. It seems more to me to be a relentless pursuit to understand people, to reach across the divide of casual acquaintance and perceive the world through someone else's eyes and take notes about the journey. To put into words the nonverbal connections that makes humans members of the same race. I've also been told that I should find a way to make it a profession, a paid job. But that is a responsibility I've laid down. It is not for me to add monetary value to what I write because it is the very act of writing that brings me value. After all, I am an observer only. A transcriptionist of the human experience. A reflection of what I see around me. Not an influential mountain-mover. Not an artist. Not a creative. And that is why I didn't call myself a writer. Until now.
Now I claim it. Now I feel it. Now I've realized the freedom in doing something purely because it is food to my soul. Because when something brings you joy you do it anyway. Even if it doesn't earn you a dime. Even if it makes you vulnerable. Even if it the hardest thing you've ever done. Even if it makes sense to no one but you.
Marie Kondo tells us in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to get rid of anything that doesn't spark joy. I agree with her (I've always been quick to toss things in the dumpster) but I think the reception of her concept was distorted.
I saw an ad in an online marketplace for a veggie spiralizer. This healthy kitchen gadget that turns vegetables into noodles was offered for free! The ad was very popular boasting a ton of traffic! The accompanying caption said "does not spark joy." It was hilarious. And true! "Zoodles" can't hold a candle to pasta. But if we kept with this line of thinking, that things which are not immediately gratifying do not bring us joy and thus they ought to be released, then consider when our parents would have kicked us out of the house...
Or how about that treadmill that doesn't get used? It's become an excellent drying rack but it doesn't spark joy because it represents work (and its presence under the laundry reminds us of our failure to use it for our betterment - and that stings, we want to get rid of that reminder, don't we?).
No, no. The question is not whether or not the item itself sparks joy but what the item means to us. The basis for Kondo's practice is a careful meditation of WHY you own the things you do. You own a treadmill because it's meant to spark not joy but ACTION - and that action leads to improved health and longevity - and if a longer, more vibrant life doesn't spark joy then I don't know what will.
But seriously, if the sight of the treadmill has lost its power to spark action then you'll be pleased to garner much interest in an online marketplace with a witty caption.
So what's your "it" -- the thing that you do anyway? The thing that may seem like work at times but is meaningful to you? Is it to blog or paint? To visit the elderly? To wake up at 4am and run just for the thrill of running? To sew or knit? Curling (I've always wanted to try that!)? Ministry? Baking cookies? Volunteering?
And if you haven't found your thing...let discovery be your "it" and devote yourself to finding the thing that makes you feel so wildly alive.
And when you find it --do it anyway.