Monday Motivation: Rediscover your truest self
In the beginning, the prospect of the life stretched out before you is without blemish. Anything seems possible. You could write a great book, compose a perfect poem, paint a memorable picture. Whatever your creative inclinations, you feel an itch in your fingers that leaves you little doubt that you will succeed. That all it’ll take is application and, perhaps, a glass of red wine, the love of a beautiful woman* or a compelling man – and time.
But time passes, and what you get is not quite what you imagined. Compromises are made. Errors are committed. Some are clearly of your own doing, but some seem simply to happen. That beautiful woman, that charming man reveals a dark and unreliable heart. The wine sours. The novel drifts away. You get to page 37 and set it aside, intending to return when inspiration returns, and so, when inspiration does not return, you do not return. You turn your canvas to the wall. You tuck your notebook away.
By the time you’re well into your career, you’ve dismissed those early dreams. They were, you tell yourself, the fantasies of youth.
But what if they weren’t? What if those first creative impulses were the truest expression of your deepest self?
And what if, in jettisoning these dreams, you were abandoning your best chance of becoming the real you?
These thoughts were inspired by an interview I heard on the radio with Tim Smit** the creative genius behind the restoration of the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the establishment of the Eden Project.
He was asked what exactly it was that he did. He thought for a moment and then said, “I think what I do is, I make people believe in themselves and rediscover the person they thought they once were.”
And I thought for a moment and realized that that is what people find, when, trapped for decades in the corporate world, they reach back in time, and deep into themselves, to unlock their creative potential. They rediscover the person they once thought they were.
“There are loads of people out there,” Smit went on, “who are disappointed in who they’ve become, and who are just waiting to be in a situation in which an adventure is offered.”
This, they say, is a chance to rewrite the story of their life.
So my words today are directed at anyone who feels that somewhere, somehow, they lost their way, and in doing so, left some essential part of themselves behind. There are, obviously, many ways back onto the path you strayed from – but writing is clearly one of them.
* Omar Khayyam, in The Rubaiyat, said it best: A book of verses underneath the bough, A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and thou…
** The interviewer who talked to him on BBC’s Radio Four remarked on the great pity that his knighthood spoiled the symmetry of his name: Sir Tim Smit doesn’t really work as a palindrome, does it?
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