The Vulnerability of Must
We continue where we left off – and end the discussion with the fourth reason given most often for not choosing Must: Vulnerability – far scarier and spoken about much less, because choosing Must means you must confront some very big fears: what’s all this for? Some obscure dream? A childhood fantasy? A fleeting feeling you can’t really understand or explain? It is at the crossroads of Should and Must that we feel the enormous reality of our fears, and we turn away from that place where nothing is guaranteed, nothing is known, and everything is possible.
The What-are-you-so-afraid-of List
Luna suggests that we grab a piece of paper and write the numbers one through ten on the left side of the paper. This is your worst-case scenario list; your list of fears, doomsday concerns, and everyone-is-going-to-laugh-at-me-and-run-the-other-way scenarios. Scariest fears. Take ten minutes and write them down. GO!
“Now let’s get realistic about these fears. Because often, fears in our mind are sticky and difficult to remove. But fears on paper? Tangible. Visible. Cross-out-able”.
Line by line walk yourself through your fears; examine them; bring them into the light. Is this fear a realistic one? Is it worth designing my life around? Is it more of an emotional fear? Have a conversation with yourself about each one. After that, write a short note or tip next to each line listing ONE thing that you can do to loosen that fear’s grip on your life. These fears are the invisible walls that surround you daily. Decide which ones go and which ones stay.
What is one action that you can take to honour your calling – today? Just ONE.
While this journey asks that you surrender to the unknown, it does not ask you to put yourself – or those around you – at risk. Must is too important – way too important – to be chosen on a whim, out of excitement. The most sustainable Musts happen slowly, thoughtfully and quietly. Every decision counts. One Must instead of one Should. Must is not a faraway land that you hope to arrive at sometime in the future. It’s not for tomorrow or another day. Must is for today, NOW. And as you take daily action, the cliff will cease to be a cliff. It will simply become an obvious next step along your path to Must.
Must is a choice you make every single day. Today. Tomorrow. Again and again. MUST.
“It is constant effort and hard work – and inexplicably life-affirming – to honour who you are, what you believe and why you are here. Your sacred space and daily efforts will become even more sacred. you will build a beautiful world for your Must. And over time, it will be tempting to stay forever in this magical place that you’ve created. But the complete and ultimate journey requires that you return, share your Must, and in so doing, lift the lives of others.”
Luna says that Must feels inherently selfish at first. But when you choose Must, you inspire others to choose it too. When you follow Must every day, you impact not only what you create for your work, but also who you become in your life. This is how your work and your life become one and the same. When you choose Must, what you create is yourself. It is a body of work. As you change, so does your work. Your work lives and breathes because you live and breathe. As William Blake wrote: “Everything that lives, lives not alone, nor for itself.”
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. And go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”.
A quote by Howard Thurman – Philosopher
Ripples. As you choose Must, your actions affect everyone around you. How will you inspire others? Will you even know? Will it be because they see your work? Read your articles? Delight in the final product? Or will it be because of that way you listen to them when they speak? How warmly you hug? How you live as you move through your days? Will it be something you say? Or will it be the resounding peace that words cannot express? Although you might not be able to see the impact your life is having, it is there, under the surface, on another plane that we can feel but perhaps not see.
We can’t prove Must. We can’t point to it, or define where it stops and starts, because it is not a thing that we can see. But we know that it exists because when it’s near, we feel it in our gut; it begs for a second glance. Must is both the journey and the destination. The upward journey of our lives that guides us toward that higher place. The journey isn’t new. It is perhaps, one of mankind’s oldest endeavours. Over time, you will reach a point on your journey when you are so far down your path that suddenly, you will look around to see that you have created a world and this world has created you – step by step, line by line – your dream in real life.
We each have unique potential that was given to us at birth, but whether or not we cultivate it is entirely up to us. In its purest sense, Must is why we are here to begin with, and choosing it is the journey of our lives.
On of the last things in Elle Luna’s book is this: “If you believe that you have something special inside you and you feel it’s about time you gave it a shot, honour that calling in some small way – today. If you feel a knot in your stomach because you can see the enormous distance between your dreams and your daily reality, do one thing to tighten your grip on what you want – today. If you’ve been peering down the road to Must but can’t quite make the choice, dig a little deeper and find out what’s stopping you – Today. Because there is a recurring choice in life, and it occurs at the intersection of two roads. We arrive at this place again and again.”
And today, you get to choose – Should or Must?
I leave you here – with tears in my eyes – and a great sense of humility. Life puts roadblocks in our path at every turn, and how we navigate around them is a measure of who we are. Two years ago, life-changing events forced me to choose a different path. I see it now as the end of a phase and the beginning of the journey where I am now: I travel each day into this life of adventure as I sit in my studio and create work, for me, to share with students, hopefully for others. Must hasn’t been easy. It will become difficult again I’m sure. But I will stay the course. Because I Must honour my calling. That list of fears I mentioned above? With me E V E R Y single day – What if I fail? What if nobody cares? What if nobody likes it? What if …? What if …? Fear is normal. With a lot of effort, I accept it – but try hard to not let it rule. I chose MUST because … What if it works? What if people love my work? What if all those dreams come true? Today, I choose MUST again.
Until I write again, keep creating.