I took a bunch of business courses and they made me crazy.
“What is the emotional need that your product fulfills? Markets are conversations—how are you participating in the conversation? What are you Key Performance Indicators? How will you track them?”
And I tried. I made notes and thought deeply about the questions—legitimate business questions—that were being asked of me. I thought about how to refine my focus and how to present myself on social media in a cohesive way.
But the truth is, I hated it. I found neither inspiration nor wisdom in the halls of business. Except for one little thing. Daniel Pink wrote in his book To Sell is Human that the best way to find your motivation and to assuage the never-ending self-doubt was not the affirmation but the question. Not “I will do this!” but “Will I do this?”
And I found that, when I asked myself that question, the answer was, simply, No, I will not.
Good-bye, I said, and I shut my computer, put my phone in a box. Hello outside, I said. Hello little calendula flower. Hello Heron standing in the river. Hello Sky. Hello Earth. Hello breath.
good-bye good-bye good-bye I said to the computer, the phone, the business as usual.
If there’s one belief I’ve cultivated my whole life, it’s that I have a compass. I have a needle in every cell of my body that points to my north. And that north is not a physical space but a feeling. A feeling that the essence of me is enlivened and engaged in this moment. Like when you are laying on the grass and your body relaxes and your thoughts unfurl and the Sky pours cosmic goodness into you and your body absorbs the ambient energy of the Earth. You need nothing in that state, you are held in the embrace of beauty.
good-bye markets and social media because I have only so much space in this body of mine I have only so many pans and only one fire and did you notice the calm that November brings and did you feel the silk of the night wrapping itself around you?
I began to notice how heavily imprinted the patterns of my thinking had become with meaningless traps: of the dopamine snare of the phone, the graphs of finances and calendars, the concern with of the perception of others. I felt gates closing, when what I have loved most in my creative life is flow, the flow of energy through the open gates of my mind and hands, onto the paper, the white emptiness, the page.
This thing has happened to me repeatedly. My body cries, “You are off track! Remember the Earth you love, the life you love!” And then I right my course. And then I get off track. And right my course.
This is what happens when you are human, I think. And the remembering is so nice. The trust that swells with your breath, so sweet. Your north, such a powerful space, such delicious breath.