The work that matters the most, is work that means everything to you

"At 33, I more often question whether I’m making the most of life."

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A nervousness washes over me as I realise that time seems to be going by in a higher gear.

Am I using my time in the best way?

Am I prioritising what matters the most? I’ve had three decades, after all, to figure out what I want.

I recently re-discovered this quote:

“Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

Oliver Wendell reminds us that we all have music in us in whatever form or flavour. He also makes it uncomfortably clear to us how short life is.

In asking myself the question of what truly matters, it is this:

Finding our music and allowing it to be felt in the world.

What matters is developing the music we have inside us. Deepening its resonance, its impact. We start from a reed pipe, and we craft a symphony. This is how we can best spend our lives.

We can all create music because we all possess some form of it that is unique to us. It just needs to be found and developed.

Often we deny ourselves the focus that brings us to our most colourful sound. Black and white is the default for many. We might be scared, but for most, we are just too comfortable. We are satisfied.

I am satisfied. My musical colour is probably in the range of sepia.

And yet a voice has been crying to me over the noise with the prompt: am I pursuing my brightest, most original music?

I know that I love to move people through writing. I will always write articles, but I now know that more of my time and energy must be spent with creative writing.

Even if it leads to just one meaningful story in a lifetime.

Writing a novel has always eluded me. To write a story that moves people would be the coolest thing. That is where I feel my richest music lies.

I’m aware of the arrogance of presuming my greatest music lies in writing a novel I haven’t written yet. But we have to start somewhere.

We need to identify something we’re drawn to, to which we can commit with a level of faith.

That thing needs — at least — to feel like it matters a great deal.

As frothy as ‘feeling’ sounds, it is the only place we will know to find our music because truth is right there in our bellies.

Truth can only be felt.

So if we’re still walking in the dark, we need to look for that feeling.

  • What thoughts or moments bring you those surges of excitement in your chest and belly?
  • What were you interested in in childhood?
  • What have you resisted doing because you thought it was too odd, too over the top, too much like fun to be taken seriously?
  • What books or films could you endure repeat viewings forever, and why?
  • What has brought you to tears, which wasn’t particularly sad?
  • Who would you love to meet dead or alive? What do they do that you like?
  • What work could be most personal to you?

Be selfish here. Forget trying to impress others. Forget trying to save the world or to do ‘good,’ or even to do something that hasn’t been done before.

You just need to bring your own flavour. This is for you. That’s where you need to start.

When we follow what brings us to life selfishly, we become selfless anyway.

Let the thoughts, images, and sensations from the above narrow down where to look.

We are all made of electricity. Our current doesn’t lie. Find your sparks, and use them to see what you must do with your time.

Another thing is what you consider to be ‘cool.’

Not how others define it, but how you define it.

What is ‘cool’ to you?

I mentioned the word cool in reference to writing a novel. ‘Cool’ is to our taste. Cool is subjective. And figuring out what matters to you is all about being subjective and doing what is to your taste.

When we’re open about our personal taste, we allow ourselves to be weird. We allow ourselves to find ourselves without needing to explain why.

Maybe you’ve held back on what you’re supposed to do because you are hiding your weird. That needs to stop.

Follow your weird. Do the thing many would smile and nod in an awkward, bemused way were you to describe that dream of yours to them.

Now I’ve rearranged my day so that more time and energy gets pushed towards writing fiction.

And although I like the idea of it, I am finding it very difficult to get any words down. But I know why. Because that which I know is important is often that which creates the strongest resistance in me.

“The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.” ~Steven Pressfield, War of Art.

Knowing this helps me stay with the void, and press on.

I may never write a novel that moves anyone. But I will try because it is in the process of getting there that I come alive.

It is this that will lift me to the degree that I can leave something behind that the world didn’t know it needed.

The joy (and despair) writing has given me until now has shown me that I’m on the way. If I end up leaving nothing behind, at least the work gave some nourishment to my soul.

It’s up to you to find and hone that instrument that will help you unearth your best music.

Devote as much time, as soon as possible, to that thing that means masses to you.

Realistically you may not be able to work full time on it at first.

But you might try to start weaving that work into your day more and more.

If I find that something else can get a fire going better than writing stories can, then I will move to that. But I’ve had enough sparks to show me that this is what I need to be doing right now.

Look closely enough, and you will see that you know what it is too.

What are you creating? If you have 11.9 seconds, I’d love to read your comment below.

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Originally published at medium.com

Purpose, Productivity, Life Lessons, Self Improvement, Creativity

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