Who am I? What am I doing here? Do I have an assignment in life, a mission to perform? These and other questions are ones that, sooner or later, all human beings begin to ponder. I'm no exception.
My sister, Shelley, and I had an interesting email exchange today on that very topic. One of the characteristics I've always admired about my younger sister (younger by a mere thirteen months, mind you) is her drive. Shel has an enduring sense of direction; she sets a goal and attains it by literally writing down a list of things that must be done in order to reach that goal--and then doing them, one by one by one. It doesn't matter if it's as mundane as writing a shopping list or as complex as creating her own web site. It gets done because she gets it done. Despite a grueling painting schedule in her own art studio and gallery exhibitions of her work all around the country, multiple family fun-stuff occasions, her husband's heavy international business travel, a magazine-worthy herb and flower garden maintained strictly by the two of them, a huge house and no household help (other than her husband), three grown children (two in college, one married and forging her own career), and being in the late stages of developing an art residency along the rocky coast of Maine, she's also accepted a teaching position with Central Michigan University to teach art. I'd feel like Stretch Armstrong; she feels like the Energizer Bunny.
What does all this have to do with questioning who we are and what we're doing here? Everything. The point is, despite all the roles she plays in her life, Shelley knows who she is. Rather than being confused by the vigorous obligations of her busy life and getting lost in the drama and hub-bub of being so active in each one of them, she is instead invigorated by the pull and tug of the things she loves to do. She draws strength from what others might find exhausting; she grows and learns and stretches and succeeds because she dares to try.
Yes, she gets tired and there are times when she probably wonders if she'll get it all done. But she's made provisions for those times--she plans. She writes it down, reads it, does it, and then crosses it off her list. It sounds so simple and in theory, it is. The trick, of course, is in actually doing those four things and that's something Shel picked up on early in life. There's no way she could succeed as spectacularly as she has (and continues to do) if she didn't organize and then act on it. In order to do that, she has to know who she is and what she--with all her strengths and weaknesses, both her assets and her hang-ups--is capable of doing.
Successful writing is a similar proposition. We writers can dream and doodle and talk and participate in forums and form writing groups and read books and call ourselves writers all we want, but if we don't write, we aren't successful. If we don't know who we are, we can't do what we're supposed to do. And if we don't do what we're supposed to do, we're not fulfilling our mission or completing our assignment.
Bottom line: Knowing who we are + doing what we do best = fulfilling our dreams.
Until the next time...