This is going to be a short post this week, because I'm exhausted and on account of I'm heading to the Academy of Sciences in a little bit, yay! But I didn't want to pass up this opportunity to share this image that I love so much, in hopes it fires you up. It's such solid basic simple advice:
Do What You Want.
The great news is that if you venture down the path of Doing What You Don't Want, your body will let you know. Mine did yesterday, loud and clear. It just took me about five minutes or so of the clenched stomach, locked jaw, racing heart to realize, Oh wait a sec, hang on: this thing that feels like that? It feels that way because it's not right and I don't want it. So I stopped it.
It's that simple.
OK, it may not feel like it's that simple, like you have the choice to say No, Not Gonna Do That, but I'm telling you: It is.
Telling the Truth is Hard
I once had a small epiphany standing in the tiny bathroom of a job that I had. I'd gone in there for a moment's respite from the constant chatter of the big room in which we all worked, and to try to work out why I felt so anxious & miserable in that moment. Of course, it wasn't so quiet in there either, but quiet enough for me to suddenly realize that the reason I felt so awful, why my stomach was in knots, my temples pounding, is that I felt like I couldn't tell the truth in that job, like I had to constantly bite down on what I really thought, keep it back, if I wanted to stay there. Survival there required me to lie.
That is some seriously F'ed up shit.
Doing what you want is a constant process of telling the truth, your own truth, to yourself and to the people around you. It's not always easy. Sometimes it's scary, really scary, because you feel like everything's riding on it. But it's the only way to be truly free. To truly be the boss of your own self.
Not long after that micro-bathroom epiphany, a couple of months later, I left that sorry job. Because it's a sorry-as-hell job that forces you to omit what you think, to edit out your experience, your wisdom, your truth. That's a trade-off not one of us should make.
And if that sounds selfish, good. It is. Yes, we all need to pay our bills and feed our kids and support the arts with the money we earn, but we're all better off when we're free, when we're telling the truth, when we're doing what we want. It's why we're here. It's why you are here.
Don't waste it.
So today, stop and listen. If you're suddenly physically overcome -- hands in fists, breath shallow -- stop. Notice. Are you doing what you want?