Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

“I’m On A Mission”

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.

John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues

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.

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

34 Responses to ““I’m On A Mission””

  1. August 12, 2015 at 6:51 am

    This post has Hemingway’s iceberg all over it.

  2. August 12, 2015 at 6:52 am

    This is touching.

    The inner world never seem like fun. Like you said, it eats you, but feeds you, too. Taking you far, getting you lost.

    I’m inspired now more than ever to follow my mission, and believe in it. Even if it breaks my heart.

    • M
      August 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Nice. Spot on.

  3. August 12, 2015 at 6:59 am

    This is excellent writing. Thanks

  4. August 12, 2015 at 7:24 am

    Thank you Steven. Your mission is the definition of a Pro. Honor and salute to you, Master and keep showing us the way.

  5. August 12, 2015 at 7:28 am

    As a weekly reader of your magnificent, enlightening, inspiring blog, I have to move this one into my top five of all-time Pressfield favorites.

    Thanks.

    I needed this.

  6. August 12, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Like the knowing nod you give a fellow runner on the road, we’re both on a mission. The world is asleep, and we’re getting it done. The Tribe is actually comprised of individuals who are only connected by their own willingness to fight the inner battle.

    A TED talk on Resistance or Turning Pro WOULD BE AMAZING!
    ..just sayin..
    bsn

    • Katie
      August 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Great analogy.

    • Elizabeth
      August 12, 2015 at 10:04 am

      I second the TED talk. :)

  7. Mary Doyle
    August 12, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for the timely reminder Steve!

  8. August 12, 2015 at 7:52 am

    This is why I follow you, and enjoy reading the comments people leave you. I’ve always felt alone and on the sidelines. So reading things like this help me to remember I’m not some abnormal nut. Well, I am, but there are others like me. :) Your posts are always so inspiring. I appreciate and respect that about you.

  9. August 12, 2015 at 8:01 am

    My mission has been riddled with potholes. With every step forward I try to take some big thing lands across my path. It’s been a rough go lately, but your voice in these posts slaps my face and wakes me up. Thank you.

  10. August 12, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I have a motivation wall in front of my desk, Dvekut baMesima is now my newest addition.

    I love it… it goes perfectly alongside “CHARLIE MIKE” … radio speak for Continue Mission.

  11. August 12, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Well said, Steve. Salute returned.

  12. August 12, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Yes! Thank you.

  13. August 12, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Writing these words down.

    “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.”

    Nice!

  14. August 12, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Sir, I will always be grateful to you for clarifying the equation for me, specifically through The War of Art, Turning Pro, and Do The Work. It has made an immeasurable difference in my work and in my life. And thank you for being faithful to continue offering reinforcement through blogs like this one.

  15. August 12, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Through a sort of six degrees of separation, I have arrived at this blog post at the most opportune of times. Receiving a message you were meant to hear at exactly the right time is motivating and inspiring, as if I could reach up and align the stars to my liking. Well done, Steven, thanks for sharing. May your mission be as rewarding as you have helped to make ours.

  16. Kathleen
    August 12, 2015 at 9:15 am

    And I salute and honor you, Steven. You’re not bad company to be in either! Thanks…

  17. Dakotah
    August 12, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I smart enough to know a gift when I receive one. I especially treasures those that are totally unexpected and yet most timely of all. This is my first gift from your blog and I know I’ve been gifted with a cornucopia of inspiration. Thank you, Steven, especially for highlighting “I didn’t choose”…”I was most definitely chosen”. Devout baMesima. Thank you so much.

  18. August 12, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Lets not forget that the mission is an experiment, with absolutely no guarantee of success. But even when success never comes, we refine ourselves in such a way as to create a path of respect for ourselves. All these ambitions are is a carrot to run after in our constant desire for self mastery. We want to tame ourselves quiet.

    Pressfield is my spirit animal.

    • August 12, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      “Pressfield is my spirit animal”.
      Very well said.
      bsn

    • August 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Yes, this: “We refine ourselves in such a way as to create a path of respect for ourselves” Thank you, Erika.

    • dan dunne
      September 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      Yes, you got it Erika! Perfectly you got it and you said it… going even further than Mr Pressfield.
      We could write together.

  19. August 12, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Hello Steven, been reading your blog for a while now it really helps me tons.
    This one is exeptional to me for I am having trouble with people not on a mission, just because they are retired, and falling off my page of friends. That’s life I guess.
    One has to do what one has…..
    Love and Blessings
    Annamarie

  20. Sonja
    August 12, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    These last two posts have been pure gold, and so needed right now.

    I just want to thank you for lighting the way, Mr. Pressfield, and showing us how hard it can, but how inspiring and life-changing it can be too.

    Much grace and appreciation.

    Sonja

  21. Jackie
    August 12, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I really like this and agree with ‘the mission’ viewpoint and have felt it for years with my painting (which has not been as consistent as it needs to be, in all honesty). Also I recently have experienced a sense of fog and confusion as to what my mission really is. Is that it – the thing that has always been with me and has always followed me wherever I go? What does it mean that it chooses you? I hear that so often and to me it means it is something you must do no matter what, and for reasons that may not make sense to the outside world or others who don’t understand. I think I am still an amatuer…but not a quitter. Thank you for this great post and inspiration.
    Jackie

  22. York
    August 12, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    This came to me at the right time!!! Like a guardian angel in my time of need.

    Thank you!

  23. taz
    August 12, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    I salute you Mr Pressfield

  24. August 13, 2015 at 5:28 am

    When Canadian soldiers do arctic subzero warfare they say the cold can be a reason for taking longer to do a task, but it can never be a reason for not doing the task.

  25. August 13, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I think it was probably by orgy #9 where I was like, ‘ya know, I just don’t think Steve’s gonna show!

    • Sonja
      August 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      LOL!

  26. Zdenek Neuman
    August 14, 2015 at 1:10 am

    … and I salute you…

  27. LI MIng
    August 19, 2015 at 3:50 am

    Today, I decide to look for a photo of you.
    I found it on the web.
    I print it, stick to the wall of my office, which is also my bedroom and study.
    I work beneath my bed. It’s supposed to be a double-decker but have the lower bed removed so one can work in this ‘room’.

    I stick the photo by my business registration plaque.
    Yes, I’m running a limited company, as a company director.

    Beside the photo is also a print out, a quote from his book
    An amateur does it for fun.
    A Pro does it for money.

    Water seeps along the work and dampened the print out, from the 20-year-old air conditioner.

    When I start mind drifting, I look at his eyes in the photo.
    I thought it took him some 40 years to coin out each and every of the important words in the Art of the War, word by word.

    Very precious guidelines..

    Thank you Steven.

    Now what?

    Start work.