“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
— Howard Thurman
I’ve been a little quiet here this past week. In part, the silence was simply due to a lack of time with work-related deadlines and projects piling up. But, honestly, that’s just a small part. Whenever I really want to write or really have something to say, I seem to find the time.
The real reason for the quiet is that, given the current state of our government, I’ve been afraid of what I might say if I open my mouth (or, rather, if I let my fingers run rampant across the keyboard). I try to be honest – yet positive – here on this blog and, in light of what’s going on in our country right now, I just didn’t think that I could do both right now.
So, instead, I stayed quiet. And I didn’t write. Even though I desperately wanted to. I tried to come up with ideas that had nothing to do with politics, disagreements, and differences, but each time, I came up short. Topics and ideas seemed silly, uninteresting, and not good enough. I wanted to be able to come up with the perfect post – anything short of that just wasn’t worth writing. And then there was the whole finding the time problem.
As a result, I didn’t write for a full week. And do you know what I realized?
I really, really miss writing when I don’t do it.
Writing has become my outlet – a way to sift through thoughts and ideas and questions, a tool to open the lines of communication and reach out to others. And it has also become my link – a way to connect more deeply with others, the world around me, and with myself.
In that absence of that outlet and link, the world looked less colorful and a little grayer. The bad stuff seemed a little worse and the good stuff seemed not quite as good. My mind felt a little jumbled and jittery. I felt a little more disconnected – from others, from myself, and from some kind of cosmic “whole.” I felt a little slower and a little more anxious.
I felt a little less alive.
A few of years ago, before I fully realized this writer’s spirit of mine, this all would have been a non-event. But if there is one thing that I have realized, wholly and completely, during this journey, it is the supreme importance of doing – consistently and imperfectly – what makes you come alive, whatever that thing might be.
The truth is some people spend their whole lives looking for their passion, for that thing that makes them come alive. If we are fortunate enough to find our passion, our joy, that thing that makes us come alive, we are one of the lucky ones. We shouldn’t squander it away with excuses and apologies. We shouldn’t wait until there’s “enough time.” We need to find the time, whether it’s two minutes or two hours. Whether we have the time for daily hour-long yoga sessions or we can only fit in a weekly five minute run around the block. Whether we are able to take a weekly painting class or we resort to borrowing our kids Crayolas for a few minutes at night.
And we shouldn’t save up our coming-alive-thing until we reach that illusive state of perfection, when we consider ourselves to be “good enough” and worthy. We need to embrace our perfect imperfection, the kind that comes when we throw our whole heart into something.
Because, really, we will never have enough time and we will never be perfect. So, sing off key, bake sunken soufflés, write messy poems. Waste entire photo disks on shots that are too dark or too light. Do sloppy yoga poses, meditate for 30 seconds, train for a marathon. Play the piano, journal, or take a child (any child!) to a baseball game. Make scrapbooks, play golf, throw impromptu parties. Cook, volunteer at a soup kitchen, make floppy pillow forts with your kids. Sing in the church choir, read juicy romance novels, or dance badly in your kitchen at night.
Because, while perfection and enough time may never be within our grasp, if we’re lucky, we can get a taste of what it’s like to feel completely and fully alive.
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