Don’t ask yourself what the World needs
Ask yourself what makes you come alive
And then go and do that
Because what the World needs
Is people who have come alive.
~ Howard Thurman
Last night I was talking to a friend about art. It comes easily to her, and she’s so good at it – and getting better all the time. A sketch can pour out of her pen in under ten minutes. A few more of those moments to shade in some colour and she’s done. When I met her she was writing. She struggled with the flow of her writing, although she enjoyed it. But writing never lit her up the way art does.
Often the things that come most easily to us, the things that we enjoy and find rewarding are also the things we value least in ourselves, precisely because they DO come easily.
I have another friend who is totally passionate about restoring old cars. He’s an accountant by trade, and loathes his day job. He only comes alive at weekends, when he’s out at swap meets or car shows, or tinkering in his back shed. People seek him out for his knowledge, and are constantly asking him if he’d custom-make items for them. He usually says no because he doesn’t have enough time to do their work and his own. He’d never consider leaving his day job. There’s a certain security for him in being an accountant, even though he hates every minute of it.
I made a discovery a few years ago. Life is precious. Life is also fragile. We never know when this crazy wonderful ride might end. We certainly can never be sure how much time we have left, or when something we value and take for granted might be taken away from us.
These days I live with some clear priorities in mind. I write. A lot. My blog, an assortment of book manuscripts, and my spiritual and psychic courses and workbooks. And I cook, hang out with the ones I love, and squeeze travel into the gaps. All those things have made me come alive again, after feeling burned out and nearly dead for longer than I care to remember.
So now I have three questions for you. It’s okay if you don’t have an answer straight away, although you might. Here they are:
What comes easily to you?
What are you naturally good at?
What do you enjoy more than anything in the world?
If you truly don’t know, ask the people who know you well. Weirdly, the people we love can often see the things we are blind to. (You know it’s true!)
If you still can’t work it out then dedicate time to finding out – consider it your personal quest. Sometimes life and the thing that will make us come alive finds us!
Case in point: I have another friend who is a successful farmhouse cheese-maker. He did a weekend cheese-making workshop back when he was a schoolteacher, at a time when he was feeling dissatisfied and directionless in his life. That weekend changed his life. He found out that he loved the entire process of making cheese. (And he’d only taken the workshop to avoid a wedding he didn’t want to go to on the same weekend!) Over time he did more and more workshops, travelled overseas to learn about the art of cheese-making, and finally stepped away from his day job to follow his new-found passion.
There is something in the world that makes you come alive. There is something, that when you give it room in your life, will let you shine.
Find that thing. Live that thing. Life’s too short to waste it on pursuits that will never make you happy.