“Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.“ — André Gide
[Quick aside: I’ve used the two quotes in this blog before, but feel there’s more to be said about them. Perhaps more still, even after this post. Forgive the repetition. We are what we repeatedly do?]
It’s fair to ask ourselves, as we begin each day enabled or encumbered in our routines, just what it is we’re up to. Where exactly is this day bringing us on our journey? For that matter, what is the destination anyway? Big questions, to be sure, but life is full of big questions deftly dodged. When we avoid answering our deepest questions how can we possibly expect to reach our potential? We can’t succumb to distraction when we’re creating irreplaceable.
A few weeks ago a friend planted a seed in my brain about finally hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim. I’ve contemplated doing this for years, and deep down I knew it was going to slip away like so many other dreams. Until I decided to realize that particular dream. Now don’t get me wrong: it’s still unrealized, but it aligns with my identity, lends itself to other life goals, and is attainable with applied focus, time and effort. For better or worse, I’ve also just announced that intent to everyone who reads this blog, breaking a rule about announcing what I intend to do instead of informing about what I’ve just done. But sometimes you need to add peer pressure to reach your goals in life.
A year or ten ago, I began hinting at a novel I was writing. I had no business writing a novel when I first started talking about writing one, because I didn’t believe I had any business writing it. Naturally the novel never was written, but the desire to write it remained. So I started blogging every day as a step towards writing better, applied daily through my commitment to post something every day. My blog posts are written the day they’re posted, which is why the time is variable, because I finish it when I finish it. You might add that the quality of the post is also highly variable, but the point is to ship the work, ready or not.
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your identity.
This is why habits are crucial. They cast repeated votes for being a type of person.”
— James Clear
We all wonder what the future will bring, but don’t always see we’re building it with each action. We have more agency in our lives than we give ourselves credit for, and often overthink things instead of just taking another step. That which is irreplaceable cannot be realized without consistent effort. We must choose our direction and do the work to realize it. Fate decides the rest.