By Steven Pressfield
Published: July 23, 2014
In many ways this blog is me talking to myself. What makes the thing work, if indeed it does, is that there are a lot of people like me and they are dealing with the same issues I’m dealing with. So talking to myself in this public forum is, in its way, a meditation for those individuals as well.
So I don’t ask myself, “What do I imagine others want to read in this space?” I ask, “What do I want? What issues are bothering me? What questions am I exploring?”
Why write a book?
Why make a movie?
For myself, I set aside such answers as “To make money,” “to achieve success,” “to deliver a message,” “to change the world.”
I don’t believe in any of those. In my view they’re either unattainable or, if attained, do not produce happiness or peace of mind.
How about “to have fun?” “To produce beauty?” “To tell the truth?” “To serve the Muse?”
Now, for me at least, we’re getting closer.
I was visiting an old friend last week, a man I’ve known since sixth grade who from modest beginnings has gone on to great worldly success and who has remained a good guy throughout. We had a couple of drinks and we started reflecting on our lives. We were asking each other if we had any regrets about the paths we had chosen. If we had the chance to do it over, would we have followed different courses?
My friend and I both had the same answer. It’s a little tricky to articulate, so bear with me here if I stumble and bumble a bit:
My friend said, “If you took a prototypical middle-class American guy and put him in my shoes as he was graduating from high school, I might say, ‘Yeah, that theoretical fellow might have regrets over the way my/his life worked out.’ He could say, maybe, that I/he should’ve gone to medical school or I/he shouldn’t have gotten in trouble back in a certain decade. And I/he would be right.
“But that kind of thinking doesn’t apply to ‘me.’ Do you understand, Steve? There was a ‘me’ that didn’t have free rein. That ‘me’ had no choice. I was driven to do certain things, to make certain choices. Why? Was my motivation neurotic? Was I driven by unconscious forces? Yes. For sure.
“But above and beyond those influences, my life had a Pole Star. It really did. I couldn’t articulate this concept then and I can’t really do it now, but I felt that star’s pull and I followed it. Polaris, the North Star. Something ‘celestial,’ in the sense that it was fixed from birth, or even before birth.”
“You mean like ‘destiny?’”
“I know it sounds grandiose and narcissistic, even crazy. But yes. Yes.”
I agreed with my friend. I feel the same force in my life.
“I look back and I see moment after moment when I could have gotten off the train. When good sense and every other factor was screaming at me to get off. But I always stayed on.”
Posted in Writing Wednesdays
Do The Work
Steven Pressfield is the author of the most important book you've never read: The War of Art. It will help you understand why you're stuck, it will kick you in the pants, and it will get you moving. You should, no, you must buy a copy as soon as you finish reading this.
In this manifesto, Steve gets practical, direct, and personal. Read it fast; then read it again and take notes. Then buy a copy for everyone else who's stuck and push them to get to work as well.