Letter 049: What you are becoming
I don’t know the exact nature of your current circumstances, but I can make a pretty good educated guess: you are busy.
Your list of to-dos and responsibilities probably stretches well beyond the length of your day and into the near future. The needs of work, family, and ordinary life constantly demand your attention.
How do I know? It’s simply the way of things nowadays. We begin the week with an empty calendar and, before we can blink, it’s full. There are shifts to take, lessons to plan, Excel Sheets to fill--not to mention all the ordinary needs of vacuuming and grocery shopping and mowing the lawn and filing the bills and doing the dishes! Seemingly empty months fill up with hectic days jam-packed with every manner of mundane tasks. Before we know it, it’s on to the next seemingly empty month.
On the other side of it all, when we can finally catch a breath of air and a brief moment of perspective, we’re stuck wondering about our less obvious needs: the needs for rest, for expression, the need to be heard or understood, the need to fit into a group or the need to feel defined as an individual. If the practical tasks of our lives fill the cracks in our calendars, it’s these quiet needs that fill the cracks of our souls.
It’s why every great hero in every great story faces constant pressure between those two sets of needs—the external and the internal.
The external needs are often the most obvious: villains to face, dragons to slay, mountain paths to climb, slow-motion-epic-hair-in-the-wind-on-a-horse moments to live out. We live in an external world, and no amount of thinking can change that. A story where the hero refuses to face the dragon would be a poor story indeed!
Conversely, there’s the internal needs—the invisible work heroes must undertake. The work of discovering the heroes’ own needs, facing their fears, and overcoming the lies they believe about the world.
In fact, the external work comes naturally as a result of the internal transformation heroes experience. In a real sense, it’s what separates the hero from the villain.
Both have goals.
Both want similar things.
However, only one is willing to undergo the trials and tribulations of internal transformation. It’s why years ago, Tolstoy wrote in his journal,
“It seems to us that the most important work in the world is the work which is visible, which we can see: building a house, plowing the land, feeding cattle, gathering fruits... But our invisible work at improvement of our soul is the most important work in the world, and all other visible kinds of work are useful only when we do this major work”
May the road rise up to meet you!