"I wasn’t living the life I wanted at work, and I wasn’t living the life I wanted in my personal life. This wasn’t what I had pictured.” - David Kadavy
Okay, David, you got me. Let’s do this.
I read “The Heart to Start
” in a single sitting. I may have gotten up for a glass of water at some point, but I really don’t remember. When I read the quote above, I knew I wouldn’t get up until I had read the book cover to cover.
Some people can’t help but do what they feel deeply called on to do. They get up every morning, and they don’t stop until they find the space in which to do what they love. Whether it’s painting, programming, medicine, writing, acting or mechanical engineering — they know deep down that it’s their calling to do that one thing.
Their love of what they do drives them to eventually become great. They become sought-after talent, but they don’t care about that. They’d be doing the same thing even if they never got paid. They find, as David calls it, "That Which Pulls You Through” — "the thing that is so strong it can fuel you through the inevitable discomfort of making your art real.”
They also (whether consciously or not) know when they’ve found what David calls “The Pump”, which is when you can feel your heartbeat speed up as you hit flow. It’s "a sure way to power through the start of a project, and if you get good at sensing it, it can also keep you going when things get tough.”
While thinking about these three things:
- Not living the life you want at work or at home.
- That Which Pulls You Through
- The Pump
I realized that I wasn’t living the life that I wanted in either life or work because I had allowed fear (of unemployment, starvation, poverty, parental shame and embarrassment, a catastrophic failure of world markets, etc.) to be the thing that pulled me through, and I would mistake the heart palpitations that resulted from my anxiety for the pump.
Many of us have this toxic relationship with our work and our lives. We may take different routes, but the general path looks something like this: You run on fumes and instant ramen for years, harvesting degrees and fancy job titles. The instant ramen and your roommate’s habit of leaving their stinky unmentionables lying around leave you frightened that, if you don’t do something “respectable” (I.e. not poetry, which your dad calls “basket weaving"), you’ll be forced to live like this forever. You put your head down in a panic and don’t look up for a decade.
Fast forward ten years and you have a nice salary, you live in a nice home and you drive a nice car. You may even have a nice spouse and nice kids with a nice cat and/or dog. You take nice vacations. Your parent(s) are thrilled, and everything is so … nice. Meanwhile, you’re sitting there wondering, “Wait, what did I actually want to do with my life?"
When you get to the point of asking yourself this question, you’re so exhausted and you’re so far down the road that it’s easier to push forward and dream about the poems you could have written than reach back for the passion you left behind with the ramen and stinky … let’s say socks.
Now, even if you reach back for that passion, recalibrate your pump and settle on a new thing to pull you through besides fear of an all-ramen diet, you still have your ego to contend with:
"Our egos will fool us into thinking that we need to do more research, or that we just need to carve out a few months of free time to rent a cabin in the woods. Meanwhile, we live inside the dangerous joy of our daydreams."
Oh, ego, you sneaky minx. You’re protecting me … from the head-splitting … I mean thrilling, exhilarating, wonderful work I need to do to realize my art. At least I see you now.
The fact is, I could go on with how David walks you through tackling your ego and breaking down the work, the power of curiosity (that part's good) and so much more, but I don’t want to spoil the book. I will share one thing that helped me reach back for my passion and stop living inside my daydreams:
Stick with me. I didn’t buy just any app (even as I fully understand that apps don’t guarantee anything more than a credit card charge). I got an app that’s specifically for people who write books. It formats your typing and pages into book-like pages. It makes me feel like I’m typing the next, great American novel even if it’s just a list of what I ate that day.
There’s something about typing into a format that looks like what you want to make that makes what you want to make seem a bit closer at hand, and the process of making it becomes a bit more electric and fulfilling. It’s given me a new pump, and writing this newsletter every week -- more specifically you, dear reader -- is my "that which pulls [me] through."
So, between the two, I’ve started the process of restoring the picture I had of my life, removing everyone else’s art and making my own. Hopefully, the next time David and I chat (which will all but certainly be at the appointed time in that cafe in Colombia) I’ll be able to get his thoughts on my book.
I’ll be back next week with more curious crumpets. In the meantime, have a great week.