By Steven Pressfield | Published: August 12, 2015
For years I lived “the way the day took me.” I’m not knocking that, either as a temporary default mode or as a way of life. It can be fun. You can find yourself, in a good way, in places you never imagined you’d be. You can meet great people. You can learn a lot.
But at some point, that kind of life ended for me. I ended it.
Since then I’ve been on a mission. I’m like the Blues Brothers. The day doesn’t sweep me away any more. My inner world, my universe of intention, is completely different from what it was “back in the day.”
In a way my life is pretty boring now. You will not see me at an orgy or giving a TED talk. If a hundred invitations and “opportunities” come in, I’ll say no to ninety-nine.
I’m on a mission. My day is built around that intention. People don’t necessarily see it. Their paths cross mine, doing whatever I’m doing, and from the outside it seems quite normal. I’m at the gym, I go to breakfast, I hang with my friends. But underneath I am on a mission. Those who know and understand, see it. They accept it when I get up and leave, as I accept it when they do the same thing.
I applaud them.
They’re on a mission too.
Like me, they have their work each day and they’re gonna do it whether the sky falls in or armed insurrection breaks out or aliens land from Mars and come into the house to make themselves a sandwich.
My day fractures sometimes. My week, my month, my year. Reality intervenes. I have to handle stuff that can’t be ignored.
But I remain on a mission. I’ll wait. I’ll adapt. I’ll assume whatever form I need to honor my responsibilities or take care of emergencies that arise. But nothing gets in the way of the mission.
I will get back to it. I will not let it go.
When I was working on The Lion’s Gate, I interviewed and wound up spending a lot of time with Israeli fighter pilots and paratroopers and tank commanders. They taught me a phrase in Hebrew, Dvekut baMesima.
Mesima means “mission.” Dvekut means “glued to.”
Adherence to the mission.
The inner world of the warrior and the artist can be almost identical. Both know as they embark on an operation that they will encounter opposition, often fierce, occasionally violent. Both know that circumstances will compel them to adapt, to improvise. Both know that they will sustain casualties. Sacrifices must be made. Both accept the reality that every yard of dirt comes at a price.
The mission devours you, but it feeds you too. It endows you with focus. It lends your actions meaning. You define it and it defines you.
If you’re reading this blog, my guess is that you’re on a mission too. Don’t tell me. I don’t need to know what it is. I respect you just for having it. I salute you. If we pass in the street, I will see that mission in your eyes and I’ll silently honor it and honor you.
You had no choice in your mission, did you? You didn’t pick it. It picked you, just like it picked Jake and Elwood Blues.
That’s not bad company to be in.