Monday, January 26, 2015

(#118-1) January 2015. If you don’t know where you are going, it’s hard to figure out how to get there.





Now and then I try and imagine what my life might be like if I was not a writer—and I practically break out in a cold sweat of fear. Writing underpins everything I do—what I think; what I do; how I do it; and most of my goals and ambitions. It also feels right—morally right in the deepest sense. It is my calling. I am doing what I was put here to do (assuming I was put here at all—a separate subject).

Does it worry me that that I haven’t written a book that has changed the world?

Not at all. Firstly, I have changed the world in a small way by touching the lives of several million readers. Secondly, the access I have gained through writing has enable me to accomplish some quite significant things. Thirdly, my primary purpose isn’t to change the world. It is to write to the full limit of my capabilities—a prodigiously ambitious goal given that it is innate to human nature that we rarely commit totally.

Total commitment is hard and has consequences. Few of us are that courageous. Mostly, even if we are trying—and often we don’t try very hard—we do the best we can given the constraints of our circumstances and the distractions which surround us—and then there is the dominant limitation of time. One cannot polish a piece indefinitely. At some point the writer has to accept the limitations of his work—and move on—even while knowing he could do better. Leonardo da Vinci summed up the situation perfectly. “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

da Vinci is worth reading, by the way. We tend to think of him as a painter and sculptor. He was a remarkably fine writer as well.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
Leonardo da Vinci

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo da Vinci

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Leonardo da Vinci

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death”
Leonardo da Vinci

Maria Popova of on purpose

"One should want only one thing and want it constantly," young André Gide half-observed, half-resolved in his journal. "Then one is sure of getting it." More than a century later, Werner Herzog wrote passionately of the "uninvited duty" that a sense of purpose plants in the heart, leaving one with "no choice but to push on." That combination of desiring something with inextinguishable intensity – which begins with letting your life speak and daring to listen – and pursuing it with steadfast doggedness is perhaps the single common thread in the lives of those we most admire as luminaries of enduring genius. It is also at the heart of what it means to find your purpose and live it.

I was primarily in business before I committed totally to writing in 1986—and I have no doubt at all that if I had stayed a businessman, I would now be considerably wealthier and comfortably retired.

Nonetheless, I have never regretted my decision to become a writer despite all the difficulties, the rejections, the financial insecurity, and my many failures in writing itself. It is a joyous way of life and utterly fulfilling. 

VOR words c.365.


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