“The unexamined life is not worth living” - Socrates
The following is a confessional.
I have failed spectacularly at meeting my ambitious goal of writing a weekly blog. I set the goal at the beginning of the year and got off to a great start, but then I hit a wall. I simply couldn’t convert my ideas into words.
In the age of the typewriter, my paper bin would have been overflowing with crumbled-up pages, marked with a few halfhearted sentences. Fortunately, in today’s digital world, no forest was sacrificed on the altar of my writer’s block.
Between moments of frustration, I began to wonder what was really going on.
I coach clients, on how to create movement when they are stuck and the irony of my own situation was not lost on me. In more enlightened moments, I would chuckle at this cruel joke, but mostly, I began to judge myself for my procrastination. How could I possibly take the seat of a coach, or write about living, if I was this stuck myself?
We don’t naturally turn towards the source of our discomfort, even though it is often essential in moving forward. My attempt at running from, or ignoring, my struggle with writing, had obviously not helped. So instead, I turned my attention towards the struggle itself.
For anyone, truly interested in deepening their understanding of themselves, any struggle or difficulty, represents a doorway for inquiry. What was my writers block trying to teach me? What was really blocking me?
After some inquiry, I realized, I had not given sufficient consideration, to the fundamental question of “why do I write?”. As a result, self-doubts, such as “why would anyone care?” or “who am I to write about living?”, were mixed with more fruitful questions, such as “why am I sharing this?” and “how can I best communicate in a way that is helpful to others?”.
First, I gave room to the voice of doubt. It spoke of humbleness, which at first seemed warranted. I am after all covering territory as old as recorded history, explored and mapped in great detail by wisdom seekers, such as Socrates and Siddhartha.
But then, I noticed a more subtle and insidious voice. It whispered from behind the veil of humility, asking rhetorical questions such as “who am I, to add anything new or relevant to this long-running dialogue?” and “wouldn’t it be safer to leave these questions to the “real” philosophers and spiritual thinkers?”.
This is a prime example of the chameleon nature of fear. To be convincing, fear often masks itself and whispers about what is in our “best interest”. It’s a voice that keeps us safe, but small and unfulfilled, if it dictates our lives. Fear is the gatekeeper, that stands between us and our dreams.
The more important and meaningful the dream, the more fearsome the gatekeeper guarding it. When people speak to me of their dreams, I always look for the accompanying fear. If I don’t sense any, I inquiry into how important the dream really is.
Because, to accommodate fear, we often pursue smaller and safer “dreams”, thereby foregoing our deepest, most meaningful potentiality. Walking our own path requires courage, because it is vulnerable and entails a sense of putting ourselves at risk.
Welcome the sight of a fierce gatekeeper. It is a sign that you are on the right path.
One way to move forward and past our gatekeeper, is to nurture and thereby empower the dream on the other side of the gate. What does life look like on the other side? How does it feel? The richer the fabric of the dream, the greater its magnetic pull.
What is on the other side of my gate labelled “Being an inspirational writer”?
I see myself writing with a fire in my belly, fueled by the knowledge of why and for who I write. I envision my first book and how it positively inspires my readers. I can sense the warm glow in my chest as I write these words, a smile widening on my face, as the gatekeeper fades into the background.
So why do I write?
Socrates put it eloquently, if uncompromisingly, in the quote above. I believe we are on this earth to experience and explore what it means to be alive. This means being present, curious and in a state of learning, about our individual lives, how we connect with others and our environment.
I write, to offer my personal perspective, on these questions of living. It is a perspective grounded in my study of philosophy, spirituality and life experiences.
I write, to ignite and fuel a passionate inquiry, into how these fundamental questions relate to your life. I write to support a community of fellow learners and seekers. This fulfills and excites me.
“What gatekeeper(s) do I need to identify and face?”.
“What are my deepest, most fulfilling dreams and how do I empower them?”.
Importantly, take action! Step forward, through the gate and into your dream beyond. For…
…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred...Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe