When does one start becoming a true writer, no longer simply a scribbler of random thoughts and spewer of feelings turned frustrations? How do you go about working towards becoming a serious, professional writer? Even more confounding – what makes a true, serious, professional writer? Who decides it and bestows upon you that title? The readers? The critics? The printing houses? The effort, time and heart you put into your endeavour and each word that you imagine and put on paper? Is all of this worth it and is this really my purpose here?
I catch myself thinking that we expect too much from life. We’ve got it in our heads that the Universe owes us something, that it owes us happiness for the simple fact that we came into existence due to a multitude of factors coming together in that one single fraction of a second, so we were born instead of some other potential human beings. For whatever inexplicable reason, we concluded that there must be some purpose to life, that divinity or the Universe are supposed to offer that to us on a silver platter, while angels play the harp in the background and divine light shines down upon us. We fail to see that purpose is not just given to you, it’s something you create for yourself and it can be as unique and diverse as snowflakes are.
No, the Universe does not owe you anything, not happiness, nor bliss, nor a ready-made purpose. Life is not perfect by design. If it were, it’d be called paradise, nirvana or something along those lines. So in this imperfect and much too short-lived existence, it’s up to each one of us to draw the mental picture of what purpose is for us, and to work towards it; bit by painful bit, second by fleeting second.
In a very unexpected twist of events, about the same time I began to reflect on this and to internalise it, I stumbled on this article. Quoted there is the below musing by Pulitzer-winning poet Robert Penn Warren:
“In the phrase [“to find myself”] lurks the idea that the self is a pre-existing entity, a self like a Platonic idea existing in a mystic realm beyond time and change. No, rather an object like a nugget of gold in the placer pan, the Easter egg under the bush at an Easter-egg hunt, a four-leaf clover to promise miraculous luck. Here is the essence of passivity, one’s quintessential luck. And the essence of absurdity, too, for the self is never to be found, but must be created, not the happy accident of passivity, but the product of a thousand actions, large and small, conscious or unconscious, performed not “away from it all,” but in the face of “it all,” for better or for worse, in work and leisure rather than in free time.”
We are, but we also become, in a never-ending transformation and evolution towards the purpose that we must pinpoint for ourselves, be it small, or be it monumental. But for that we must also have the bravery to take a true, good look at ourselves in the mirror.
It’s a terrifying thing to do, seeing the ugliness in your soul, acknowledging it and resolving to do something about it. What you see in that mirror might be completely unexpected, and it may be the most beautiful thing that you’ve never known about yourself. If only you’d had the courage to glance at yourself earlier!
Getting to know yourself and building purpose – these are active verbs we should all use in writing the stories of our lives. The passive voice is what’s dragging us down and keeping us trapped in our unhappiness.