Practically Done

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Life can appear to be divided in two: that which you must do, and that which you want to do. The musts are certain, the wants optional. There is bread to be buttered, roofs to be kept overhead. The march of survival tramps on unceasingly, and somehow, somewhere in the dirty, daily business of not dying we hope to squeeze in time for that which we most want to do.

Yet as someone who has spent many decades attempting to appease the beast of what must be done, I will tell you that his hunger is limitless. There is always something else you must conceivably do. And all for what?  Some meager corner of your life you call your own?

Someone once said to me, “Bill, why don’t you write a book like John Grisham, make lots of money, and then write the books you like to write.  Wouldn’t that be more practical?” In fact it would be impractical. I have tried and tried to do things I didn’t really want to do, and I usually can for a time, until the tension between where I want to go and where I am telling myself I must go becomes so great that something snaps and I must start again with something else I don’t want to do—saying to myself, “This time I will work harder, and be more diligent, and this time I will finish this thing.”

Everything in your life is working tirelessly to get you to do the thing you most want to do as often as possible. You will be forever sabotaged and distracted and disrupted whenever you do what you don’t want to do. No matter how simple it appears, no matter how logical, it won’t work.

If you want to be practical, if you want to butter your bread, if you want to survive, then do what you most want to do the way you want to do it. It is the only way to ensure you will keep wanting to do whatever it is you are doing. You are the only one doing everything in your life, after all, and so if you don’t want to do what you are doing what you are doing won’t get done, and I don’t see what is so practical about that.

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