The Roots in Your Heart

“There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write…. if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.” — from Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

You could substitute the word “write” with any of the things in your life that you recognize as a deepest desire.

What in your life has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart?  What must you do to be fully yourself?   Speak it out loud: “I am a writer… or an artist… or an athlete…  or monk . . .or  . . .??”

Now look around at your life.  What is true about being a writer?  Let’s use that one for an example.

Every year my wife undertakes a silly but satisfying project known as National Novel Writing Month.  She completes 50,000 words of “a lousy first draft” in thirty days.  Every year.

And every year I watch her disappointment as so many of her friends who “want to be” writers tell her that they don’t have the time to participate.  And I know that the disappointment she feels is not entirely personal – it’s that people she cares about will not give themselves the gift of prioritizing a deepest desire.  Or maybe it is learning that their “desire” is not deep enough to act on.

Another way to keep desires from becoming regrets is to ask another question or two.  The first is “ If I had it to do all over again I would….?”

Please be sure to follow it with  ‘If not now, when?”


One Response to “The Roots in Your Heart”

  1. Come to the Edge

    Apollinaire said:
    “Come to the edge.
    We might fall.
    Come to the edge.
    It’s too high!
    Come to the edge.
    And they came,
    and we pushed,
    And they flew.”

    Christopher Logue

    Thanks for the push. love, w

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