One of the most valuable tools I employ in continually finding myself is the regular practice of asking questions. I get answers from books and wise friends, but the most valuable answers always seem to be hidden within me. Books can tell me that happiness is found in pursuing our dreams, and my intuition can confirm it; but who can tell me what that dream is, other than me? And how do I follow it? I wrestled with those questions for a few agonizing years before I realized the answer had been staring me in the face the whole time. It was by asking other questions, that I found those answers. Want to hear my favorite, or at least one of them?
If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?
It sounds so simple, until you consider the number of people that are unfulfilled in our corner of the Universe. How easy is it to fill your mind with thoughts of work and family and friends, and never even get around to considering whether some great thing lies buried deep within you? How much room is there left to find that thing, in a mind already full of other thoughts? Turns out this exercise is not simple at all, unless you’ve already made a regular practice of it.
Some people think they would spend their days on the beach sipping cocktails and doing a whole lot of nothing, if they could do anything. Maybe some folks would, but most of us would get bored with that pretty quickly. The creative spirit is not so easily placated, and the rewards that it offers are such that it shouldn’t be. Listlessness is only rewarding when it follows the conquering of some great challenge, and it’s meant to recharge batteries that have been drained by massive effort. As a lifestyle, it has very little to offer when it comes to inner rewards.
That’s where we often have to go to answer that question, into the inner workings of our own unique rewards system. A generic hierarchy of needs will tell you what you need to survive, but it takes A Personalized Hierarchy of Needs to get beyond simple survival and into the realm of inner fulfillment. The question may be better phrased, then, from this perspective:
If all of your survival needs were taken care of, and it didn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, what would you do?
I battered my brain with the question, and changed it up like that from time to time, for quite awhile. The hard thing to figure out was that I enjoyed hard things, because I honestly didn’t think I did. My abilities were limited to what was easy for me to learn, in my early twenties. Nothing had grabbed my attention for long enough to drive me past better than average at some things, and disinterested in everything else.
It was realizing what my passion was that turned that around for me. I didn’t want to waste time learning things I would never use, after I had found that thing I wanted to do so badly. Then I figured out that thing I wanted so badly, and everything became a lot more interesting through that new filter.
I love to write!
Anyone who knows me now sees that as a given, an aspect of me that they can’t likely separate from what else they know of me. My writing touches every aspect of my life in some way or another, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Rather than using it as an excuse to avoid any aspect of life or eschew any given experience, I use the fact that I write to push my interests further than they would otherwise go. Just as the best way to learn a subject is with the intention of teaching it, the best way to experience life is with the intention of writing about it. In my opinion.
My books are not romance novels, but my life is full of romance. Although I never intend to write a romance novel (which seems to be a good indicator that it will probably happen someday), my own love of romance is still very present in my books. Having characters with motivations is important; pretending that a strongly motivated character could exist without some love drive or another is way too fictional for me. Although I don’t write romance, my romantic partner is also my publishing partner. While many people can’t imagine working with their significant other, I can’t imagine working with anyone else.
It’s one of those answers I got, when I asked myself what I would do if I could do anything. Those inner questions even led me back to The Right Partner, and on to publishing my books…it’s all tied together, like I would do it if I could do anything. I don’t get the artist that wants to be with someone who doesn’t care about their art; for me, being loved for who I am means my writing is part of what I am being loved for. That only makes sense, since my books are the best of what I have to share with the world. Why wouldn’t I want my favorite person to be a part of that?
I learned more about myself than about anything else over the years, asking questions that seemed simple until I tried to answer them. When I found out that most of the people I admired deeply started out asking many of the same questions, I rejoiced and kept at the asking. My life is more like I want it to be than ever, and I think that practice might have something to do with it. Of course, answers change as surely as people do; and that’s another good reason to keep asking those timeless questions. Much of the point of wanting what we want is knowing what we want; as we practice getting it, little by little, we practice seeing it more clearly as well.
Do we find our destiny, or does it find us? Is there a way to know the difference, or a reason to ask in the first place? That reunion feels like the beginning for many of us, as we take off in the direction of doing the thing we would do if we could do anything. Rather than answer some final question and be done with living, we find in that answer the endless string of questions that lead us deeper into ourselves and into a more delightfully entangled relationship with our destiny. Like any worthwhile endeavor, life gets more difficult and complicated if we continue to take it to the next level. For the happy person fulfilling their soul’s needs, the difficulty and complication are welcome and worthwhile challenges.
I’ll take that any day, even the ones I spend laying on a beach.
Thanks for reading!
All the best,