Culture | Fitness | Learning | Personal Growth | Philosophy | Stoicism

The Pull of Our Inclinations

“A stone, because of its makeup, will return to earth if you throw it up in the air. Likewise, the more one pushes the intelligent person away from the life he was born for, the more he inclines towards it.” – Musonius Rufus

What of our makeup? Are we drawn towards our inclinations, like gravity pulls a stone? Speaking as a sample size of one, I believe it to be true. Certainly the writing poured out of me in every job I’ve ever had, manifesting my own inclinations in quote-of-the-day emails, monthly newsletters and lengthy dissertations on topics lost forever in the ether of bits and bites.

We often ignore our makeup in favor of the trade du jour. Who wouldn’t want the relative guarantees of a career in engineering or law or programming over the uncertainty of art or music or writing? Your parents certainly wanted the best for you when they reminded you to study hard. Our friends also influenced us, steering us to get the college degrees in fields where the jobs were. The pull of our makeup is in a tug o’ war with the well-intentioned advice of our circle of influence. And of course the anchor of the opposing tug o’ war team: that inner voice, Seth Godin’s Lizard Brain, Steve Pressfield’s Resistance, that quietly conspires against you.

So whatever you pursue instead, you try to do it well. To honor your commitments, to build your nest egg and support your growing family. But that inclination quietly pulls at you, asking for more of your attention. And you slowly concede a bit here and there. Start selling things on Etsy, playing guitar in a band, writing a blog or creating an InstaGram site to display your photography. A hobby, really. Something to dabble in to keep the mind working.

Over time you see incremental improvement; finding your stride, your style, your voice. And you find a bit of momentum. You’re still in that tug o’ war, but the flag is inching a bit closer to that line in the sand. And it’s a battle! One side pulls, the flag shifts away, the other gains strength and the flag draws closer to crossing over. Back and forth it goes. Which side wins?

Well, that’s up to you.

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