Last week I talked about my sleepless nights and how it turned out to be a sign that I needed to write. And although it’s never fun to run on low sleep, it’s such a beautiful thing to realize that your calling is so strong that it literally won’t let you rest until you fulfill it. Or at least work your best on any given day toward that dream.
That’s when you know it’s real.
The fact that I MUST write is the answer to what Ranier Marie Rilke asks of a budding writer in Letters to a Young Poet when he comes to Rilke for advice with his writing career.
Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all– ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write?
Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative… then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.
This passage is what Diana Castle, my acting teacher in LA, would often repeat to us. She would tell us that 95% of her job was just getting people to COMMIT to being an actor. Once that happened, the work took care of itself. But the resistance people displayed in not fully owning their dreams, fully believing in them, was what held most people back.
And every time, it came down to the simple fact of whether or not acting was really in them. How badly a person wanted it.
So she’d pose the above question for us to ponder: must I act? Recognizing Rilke’s advice to a young writer can be easily translated to any person with a dream.
Must I do ______________ (fill in the blank)?
So if you’re experiencing resistance in your life with whatever passion you’re pursuing, if you just don’t seem to be making headway, or if the field itself is driving you bananas and making you miserable, be honest with yourself. And ask: must I do this?
Once you know the answer, it makes life a whole lot easier. Either you free yourself from something that’s really not in you anyway and allow yourself to move on to something that is or, enduring the difficulties of the journey toward that dream become that much easier. Knowing that you must.
So how bout you? What MUST you do with your life? If you’re pursuing your true calling, what was the moment that made you realize this was it for you? If you’ve been resisting your call, but know you must, what’s one action you can take today?