Making What You Hate

When I was working in restaurants, I knew a young waiter who, like a lot of young waiters, was only waiting tables until he could do what he really wanted to do. As I recall, he was unclear what it was he really wanted to do, but he did know this: it wasn’t working in restaurants. “I hate it here,” he told me. “And I have to keep hating it or I might never get out.” I sympathized completely, but I advised him that this was not the best way out of anything. Not that hating where you are doesn’t seem strangely practical. That is, who wouldn’t want to stop doing something they hate? But it doesn’t work that way. As a favorite teacher of mine said, “You can’t make anything you want hating what you’ve got.”

So true. Hating something, anything, requires energy. It is not a passive position. And yet no one wants to create anything they hate, so all the energy poured into hating something is required not to make anything. By hating wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you are choosing to take all your creative energy and dump into a black hole. Except that by pouring energy into something you hate, you are actually making more of it. In order to hate the restaurant, my friend had to hold onto it, how else would he be able to direct all his hatred toward it?

The other option is to let the restaurant go and focus one’s energy on that which we wish to create. What we hate is like a nightmare monster, with limitless tentacles with which to bind us in place. What we hate about restaurants, or publishing, or marriages, or schools, is the power we believe these ideas or places or people have over us, not the people, places, or ideas themselves.

We are not really humans – we are creators in human form. Our creative power is so immense that any idea we lay our attention on grows. We are magic.  That the idea might grow quietly or out of our conscious sight does not mean it is not growing. Writing is an act of conscious, deliberate, practiced creating. But you don’t stop creating when you leave that desk. You would never write what you actively dislike—you needn’t live it either.

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