A friend asked for my advice the other day. I am trapped in a place I hate and don’t know how to move along. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I love.
She has voiced the same concerns before, and I gave her the same advice as always. It basically doesn’t matter what you do. As long as you do better than the thing you hate. You’ve set the baseline. Now move away from that. Somewhere, anywhere, it doesn’t matter. But you have to move. You have to do something.
But then again, what do I know. I speak from no authority. Be extremely cognizant of the advice you take from mentors a mentor once advised me. People mean well, I’m sure of that. But they are shaped by inclinations. Their own biases and fears and faulty minds. Take advice on practicalities, sure. No harm in seizing guidance in matters of logistics. But on actual creation, the heart and passions and which path to move along? No one knows that but yourself.
So follow your dreams, basically. Right. If only life was as simple as the inspirational posters make it out to be. Follow your dreams. How? People don’t know their dreams. It’s the reason they are dreams. They are sensations, inclinations, dispositions in the realm of the unknown.
You do, however, know in which direction they are pointed. And that’s where you have to go. That’s the yardstick. Do whatever it is you fragmentarily prefer over something else. Turn your gaze toward whichever light shines the brightest at the moment, whichever star stand out the most. Scrape your way through the dirt and thorns towards it and once you’re halfway there and realise it wasn’t what you wanted – celebrate. It means you can check another thing off your list.
Do this passively and violently and over time, all those tiny scraps of sunshine glare and rainbow dust you gathered along the way will mould themselves into an approximation of the thing you may become.
The mistake you make is this: you think your passion already exists and all you have to do it find it. I repeat: if it only were that simple. No, you have you mould it yourself. You have to mix your hands deep within the dirt and filth and shape that thing yourself. Just as there is only one of you there is only one of your passions. No one else has found it because it is not theirs to be found.
I’m not there. Not in the slightest. But I don’t mind. I’m on my way. My mind is open and I am lucky to be brave enough to let my heart enjoy authority. I’m getting there.
On the other hand my speech is false. I’m getting there. There. Where? Which location precisely? Some magical nirvana of bliss and clear blue skies?
This where does not exist. It is no location, activity nor person. It is all of those and none at all. Patriotism is not enough, Huxley wrote. But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics is not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.
Your where is your self, your soul and your unhinged pure true senses. But this self cannot be caught. It is too transient, too malleable, too ephemeral and interchangeable. It can never be captured because it never stays the same. Drown yourself in art until you’ve lost your senses, lose yourself in love until the world outside dissolves, sacrifice your worth for a pompous great grand scheme – it doesn’t matter. Your fictions may be worth their salt right now. But reality always catches up.
Does that mean you shouldn’t try? Absolutely not. Just because you never get there doesn’t mean you can’t approximate. And like the great Camus so famously asserted, that’s not the point anyway. If you do get there, you will realise it wasn’t what you wanted. And you will be on your way once more. As you should.