Here’s how it happens, for me. I’ll be doing my thing, walking around, driving my truck, playing with my boys, cutting trees near high voltage power lines. Normal things, good things. I’ll feel a tickle in the back of my head. Not really an itching sensation, more like soft fingers strumming the occipital lobe of my brain. A quiet vibration. It’s at this moment, the thoughts come. Ideas. Call it inspiration, motivation, creativity, or a muse or a genius. This is how I got here, right here right now.
After hearing Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk, I understand that I do not have a mental disorder (at least not one that’s currently recognized in the DSM-V). If you’ve got 19m24s listen to Elizabeth. It’s not a problem, I’ll wait for you.
Right here right now.
It all comes together. It’s the muse, as clear as day whispering. I am not a religious man. I am not superstitious. But I am telling you this is real. The things I write, the creativity, this is not me. It is an outside force working through me. This is crucial.
Back in the war, it was every man for himself. If you got chopped down, you were stupid. If you survived, you were smart. Years and years of the war led to the internalization of whatever label you were unfortunate enough to earn. You were so brainwashed that you continue to fight long after escaping our physical incarceration. You are a failure because you fail. You are a success because you succeed. YOU are.
I argue that you are not. You are not a failure because you fail. You are not a success because you succeed. Don’t let them keep labeling you, don’t keep internalizing their scripts, don’t let it go to your head. You are a human. If the muse is responsible for your work, you are absolved, free to continue on your path. You cannot fail. You cannot succeed.
“That is a depressing thought.” No, it isn’t.
Depression is internalization. Expression is externalization. The opposite of depression is expression. Stop the internalization. Start the externalization, the expression. “Of what?” Of anything. Start expressing anything. And work at it. Work harder than you ever have in your life. It’s worth it.
Forget about success and failure since either way it’s not your fault. These are competitive terms, words which pits you against others. Removing yourself from the race you’ve been trained to run your whole lives is not easy. Just do it. Now what? What do you have left when you’re not racing to prove your superiority, not fighting to get more for yourself? You have freedom.
You are free to pursue virtue. You are free to do great things. To care. To trust. To work together. It takes two armies to wage a war. We are all in the same army. The sooner we realize this, the quicker we can battle our real enemies.
What else should we target?